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Meet Life Campaign Kicks Off in St. Louis

9/11/2012 - 1:26 PM PST

Catholic PRWire

For further information contact:
September 11, 2012
Martha Schieber, Communications Director
(800)393-5791 Ext. 206

St. Louis Meet Life Campaign Kicks Off This Month

ST LOUIS, MO (September 11, 2012) - After a year of planning, researching and crafting the right messages, the Meet Life Campaign in St. Louis is officially kicking off. The goal of the campaign is quite lofty--reducing abortions in Missouri by 50 percent by the end of 2016. It's also a goal that Missouri's Knights of Columbus embraced by establishing the Meet Life campaign and has become a coordinated effort between the Knights, Vitae Foundation, and In His Image Ultrasound. These three organizations are key to the success of Meet Life, with the first phase of ads appearing this week.

The campaign is an outgrowth of the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council's Ultrasound Initiative, which provides matching funds to local Councils, enabling them to purchase state of the art ultrasound machines for Pregnancy Help Centers (PHCs). Once the ultrasounds are in place, the key is getting abortion-minded women to the PHCs. This is where Vitae's research and marketing strategies come into play.

In August the comments from two focus groups were factored in to make sure the messaging was on target. These ads are part of a year-long effort that begins in St. Louis and will eventually spread to Kansas City and other parts of the Show-Me state.

"This is one of the most exciting projects I've ever been involved in during my 30 years working in the pro-life movement," Vitae President, Carl Landwehr, noted. "It's measurable and achievable. It's all about getting these women in the 'pro-life store' instead of ending up at the abortion clinic."

Before any ad went goes up, the messaging must be right. Debbie Stokes, Vitae's COO and Senior Vice President for Research and Education, said that two focus groups, made up of women from various socioeconomic backgrounds, tested eight sample messages, displaying a variety of ways to contact the Centers.

"To be effective marketers, you not only have to know your audience, but be able to make the message relevant to them," Stokes explained. "If you don't speak the language, use the imagery and research the media venues used by your audience, your effort will fail. Relevance to the audience on every level of the marketing strategy is key to its success."

Vitae's Senior Research Assistant, Amy Demeisi, said there's always a danger in doing this type of work for so many years. "We think we've got the inside track on our target audience. But this group is constantly changing, because the culture changes. There are always some surprises when we get the feedback from the focus groups, and this time was no exception."

On one recent 110-degree day, Demeisi, and two other Vitae staff members met with the billboard company representative and drove the streets of the city of St. Louis to hand pick billboard sites on the Interstates and in neighborhoods with a high propensity toward abortion.

On September 10 billboards were strategically placed along I-70 and I-55 in the Gateway City. There will also be neighborhood posters (smaller billboards), placed in critical zip codes where statistics show women are abortion consumers. The Interstate billboards will remain up for four weeks, while the neighborhood posters will be up for eight weeks. Then on October 1, Vitae will place bus shelter ads, which will stay up for eight weeks, and Metro Link ads that will run for 12 weeks.

All the ads will inform women of local PHC's, beginning with ThriVe in the St. Louis area. The ads feature a local phone number and the website. As the Meet Life campaign expands, other qualifying Centers will be added.

Starting this month and going for a full year will be Google Places and web optimization for specific PHCs. This is the first year Vitae has undertaken Google Places campaigns with these PHCs. The initial response has been incredible, with four campaigns going on the east coast (Boston, New York, Washington D.C., and Miami/Ft. Lauderdale). The Centers report that calls increase measurably with this type of advertising.

This next aspect is very exciting for Vitae. Also on a year round basis, there will be 80, 4' x 8' banners produced for use on or near the premises of participating Knights Councils. Posters for churches and businesses and wallet-sized cards will be used to inform everyone about the existence of PHCs in their area.

"We want people to be informed," the Vitae president explained. "If they know someone who is unexpectedly pregnant or even talk to someone who knows someone who is pregnant, they can hand them a card and say, 'Here's a Pregnancy Help Center with the most amazing advancements ...

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