Contributed by Angel Carl, AAF Omaha Board Member & Public Service Chair
Every year, AAF Omaha provides services to help benefit the public good. In 2015, the club committed to developing and initiating an extensive multi-channel campaign for the Coalition on Human Trafficking.
This coalition was created following a directive from the National Leadership Conference of Women Religious. It originally consisted of the Notre Dame Sisters, the Sisters of Mercy and the Servants of Mary. Other members now include representatives from social services agencies, law enforcement leadership from the entire Omaha metropolitan area, the Catholic Archdiocese, several healthcare organizations, The Omaha Women’s Fund, American Mothers, Inc., the Nebraska State Coordinator for Human Trafficking and a variety of other concerned individuals.
The Coalition on Human Trafficking focuses on four areas in the fight against human trafficking:
• Education – The Coalition offers free education programs to anyone who wants to learn about the basics of human trafficking – what it is, where it happens in the Omaha metropolitan area, what the signs of trafficking and victimization are and how victims can get help.
Legislation – Efforts with the Nebraska legislature focus on increasing penalties for pimps, clients/buyers and on increasing funding for victim services.
• Lodging Industry – Because nearly 80% of sex trafficking occurs at hotels and motels, the Coalition offers free training to managers and employees at area lodging facilities to help them recognize and report trafficking at their locations. The Hotel/Motel training effort became a very prominent push for this year’s efforts.
• Victim Services – The organization is researching how to establish the best after-care services for victims over 18, and how to implement effective, meaningful and comprehensive wraparound care for minors.
Since the vast majority of the population in our area never thought of the Omaha metro as a hot spot for human trafficking crimes, our goal with our collective campaign efforts was to enlighten the public so that they might Realize, Recognize and Respond
• Realize: Realize human trafficking is a real thing occurring in the Omaha metropolitan area at an alarming rate, particularly during national events such as the College World Series, Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholder’s Meeting and the Olympic Swim Trials.
• Recognize: Know the signs of a person being trafficked.
• Respond: Report to the National Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-3737-888 or call 911.
While we want to educate as many of all ages in our community as about the issue, efforts for this campaign focuses on adults ages 25-64. Interestingly, there are no behavioral or socio-economic differentiators to consider as trafficking activities can impact the poor and wealthy alike. Instead, our group concentrated on psychographic considerations, reaching those in the Omaha and Council Bluffs area who are unaware and perhaps in disbelief that human trafficking exists in “our home.” These people think of the Omaha metropolitan area as a gem—a great place to live and work, a thriving community in which to raise their families. All of the communications efforts needed to take a rather forceful approach to breakthrough that perception without creating a sense of lost hope and despair. The initial work for the Coalition was led by a team of strategists and public relations pros at OBI Creative. The impressive creative was executed by an incredible team at Webster Design, led by AAFO board members, Sean Heisler and Lisa Healey. Kerry Heinrich of HA Media Group generously provided laser focused proofing. Renze Display generously donated a banner stand and production.
AAFO Public Service Chair Angel Carl said, “The number of diverse teams that came together to strategize and produce the vast amount of creative product was amazing. We are so lucky to live in such a generous advertising community that supports important initiatives such as the work the Coalition is doing.”
Work completed on behalf of the Coalition included: The Coalition’s new logo and color palette, stationery, including envelope, letterhead and business cards, email account set up, list upload and template development, a PowerPoint template for training presentations, plaques and window clings for hotels and motels to display to inform guests the establishment has been trained on how to recognize human trafficking, an informational brochure, social media account creation on Facebook and Twitter, a print ad, press conference materials including a press kit, a banner stand, bus bench advertising, a temporary landing page that served as a placeholder for the NoTrafficking.org, complete with an emergency “close page” button, until the full site (not active) was completed.
In addition, our AAFOmaha Holiday Party raised more than $600 to help pay for some of the production hard costs. A total of over $44,000 in time and in-kind items were donated to the effort.
Bus bench advertising near hotels will begin in mid-April to coincide with high trafficking times in Omaha that happen during key national events: The Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting, the College World Series and the Swim Trials. Again, thanks to everyone who stepped up to the plate this year.
AAFO extends a special thanks to:
Mary Ann O’Brien for the assistance OBI Creative provided with strategy and the press conference at the Mayor’s office; Dave Webster of Webster Design. Dave, thank you for lending us the amazing talents of Sean Heisler, Lisa Healy, Rob Heggen and all of the others at your firm who brought the campaign to life! We know this work will make a difference!
Kerry Heinrich at H&A Media Group for helping so much with our proofing and coordination; You are a Godsend; and last but not least,
Mike Compton at Renze Display: Mike, you always step up to the plate and we deeply appreciate your willingness to help.
To everyone who assisted, thank you for all of your hard work. Together, AAFO believes we can make a dent in human trafficking in our area.