A Crisis needs Creatives + Communicators

The terms ‘collective action’ and ‘global cooperation’ resonate like never before during the COVID-19 pandemic. The words conjure up images of doctors, researchers, and public health professionals working together across the world to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. However, what has leaped to the fore has been the power of communication - to spread the RIGHT messages. Peter Piot, who discovered the Ebola in the 1970s, used to say that it is the communicators who will save more lives than all the doctors in the world.  As public relations professionals, we were compelled to play some small part in this Herculean effort. Disease and contagion is complex, and never has the need been greater to bust myths and spread the right mesages.

On 30th March, the United Nations SDG Strategy Hub and Talenthouse (part of TLNT) responded by launching a Global Creative Call Out: a rallying cry to all creators worldwide to submit a piece of work capturing one of six UN key messages to prevent the spread: personal hygiene, physical distancing, know the symptoms, kindness contagion, myth-busting, and do more and donate.

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The aim was to flood news feeds and media channels with compelling, informed and uplifting creative work to combat COVID-19 and unite the world with positive messages of solidarity. This was a galvanising call to the creative world. As succinctly put by Clare McKeeve, CEO of TLNT (part of Talenthouse), “Think back to the power of artworks such as the Kitchener ‘Your Country Needs YOU’ poster during wartime: We believe the global creative community can create today’s iconic posters, images and artwork to impact communities across the world as part of this global mission to help save lives.”  

The range of works submitted included graphic design, illustration, animation, music and video. The UN-approved works were then made available on the Talenthouse web hub to be accessed and shared by brands, media owners, the press, governments, local authorities, educational establishments, celebrities and the general public, so long as the creator was credited.

The Call Out resulted in an impressive 17,000 submissions from people in 143 states. One which received a phenomenal response and proceeded to go viral was the poem by Darren James Smith called, ‘You Clap For Me Now’. It reflects the fact that so many of the UK’s key workers in the NHS are from Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) families. By highlighting their bravery and kindness throughout the pandemic, the point is made that, now, more than ever,  a line needs to be drawn under racism and previous negative narratives of immigrants taking ‘our’ jobs.

The powerful poem is read out, line-by-line, by 39 key workers of 19 nationalities. It reads:

“So, it’s finally happened. That thing you were afraid of. Something has come from overseas. And taken your jobs. Made it unsafe to walk the streets. Kept you trapped in your home. A dirty disease. Your proud nation gone. But not me. Or me. Or me. No you clap for me now. You cheer as I toil. Bringing food to your family. Bringing food from your soil. Propping up your hospitals. Not some foreign invader. Delivery driver. Teacher. Life saver.”

At the time of writing the poem has had 5 million views.

It is a privilege to work with the UN SDG Strategy Hub and Talenthouse to publicise this initiative. It is not the first time our team has worked with the UN on such bold initiatives. We were thrilled to help secure coverage on BBC World News (TV), The Sunday Times, The Guardian, Grazia Middle East, CAMPAIGN Magazine, Little Black Book Online, Creative Review, DesignTAXI, and Music Business Worldwide.

To browse the inspirational submissions, click here. Please, like, comment, post, share and join us in the spirit of collaboration and positivity in these uncertain times.

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