Creating Motivation from Mourning: A Nonprofit’s 9/11 Story

Cedric Brown Avatar

What if you were born on September 11, 2001? Would you feel ashamed to be forever associated with such a tragic day? Or would you embrace it and see your birth as a day that brought Americans together?

That’s the question MyGoodDeed is asking as it kicks off this year’s campaign for 9/11 National Day of Service of Remembrance. For the seventh straight year, MyGoodDeed, a nonprofit organization founded by David Paine and Jay Winuk, has turned the idea of 9/11 from a day of tragedy into a day of hope and optimism. This year the organization enlisted the help of Grey New York to deliver an advertisement that tells the story of 9/11 through the eyes of children who were born on the day of the terrorists attacks.

From a public relations perspective, 9/11 Day has three elements that make it a newsworthy an powerful campaign:

  1. Timeliness – Whether or not you lost loved ones in the attacks on 9/11, you’ll always remember the day like it was yesterday. Such a pivotal day in this nation’s history often brings up negative memories rather than positive ones. However, the concept 9/11 Day capitalizes on the negative emotions and instead turns it into positive actions as it joins Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday as the only nationally recognized day under federal law.
  2. Emotion – 9/11 invokes different emotions for each of us. Understandably, those who lost loved ones to the 9/11 terrorists attacks may struggling with this day of mourning. On the other hand, others will remember it as a time when people came together to stand strong in the face of terrorism. These are the people who 9/11 Day’s story most resonates with.  In spite of the lives that ended that day, thousands of others began and the children of 9/11 serve as a powerful reminder of that.
  3. Change – 9/11 Day is refreshing because it gives Americans an opportunity to change the conversation about the day’s symbolic meaning into something positive. Not only does the campaign encourage people to commit to an act of kindness, but it also provides an opportunity to donate $9.11 or more to help support MyGoodDeed’s education programs and volunteer events. Through the donations it receives, the organization uses a powerful story in hopes of promoting charitable service in honor of lost lives.

Campaigns like these that utilize storytelling through the lens of youth represent the power nonprofits have to inspire the world. This is the kind of work I hope to be involved with one day as it’s a great example of using PR for good.

One response

  1. Briana Rinaldo

    Cedric this is great, I didn’t even know about it! It’s very interesting to think of 9/11 in terms of PR – positive or negative – and I think it’s even more interesting that our generation is changing the tone of how we’re talking about 9/11. There has been a bit of hubbub over a course taught at some universities that discuss the Arab side of 9/11 saying that these courses “justify” or “create sensitivity” toward terrorist actions. In fact, these courses actually help us understand why these tragedies happened and how we can prevent them. This change in tone will be dynamic to follow in the coming decade, so it’s great that you posted about it!

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