Division A - Public Relations Programs
Category 9 - Special Events
Boots and Badges Blood Drive Competition
Suncoast Communities Blood Bank

Golden Image Award
Judges' Award

Research/Situation Analysis: Suncoast Communities Blood Bank is a not-for-profit community supported blood bank that has been serving hospitals in Sarasota, Charlotte and DeSoto Counties for 58 years. The Blood Bank supplies blood to the hospitals 24/7, 365 days a year. The blood supply is at its highest level of collection during the winter months when seasonal residents and high school students are actively involved. However, the summer months pose a problem when those seasonal residents return north and the high schools, who contribute 9% of the total supply, are on break. In addition, many regular local donors take vacation at this time. This temporary loss of donors historically leaves the Blood Bank desperate for blood donations. In an effort to increase donations and continue steady service to the hospitals, the Blood Bank searched for an appealing way to attract an additional 200 or more people to donate blood at this time of year. Research was conducted on the internet to learn what other blood banks around the country do. It was noted that several hold successful “Guns-N-Hoses blood challenges” to increase their supplies. The “Guns-N-Hoses Blood Challenges” consist of competitions between law enforcement agencies and fire departments. Summer of 2006 was a ripe time for our Blood Bank to implement a similar concept to ignite the competitive spirit of “first responders.” It was determined that the competition would take place in July 2006 with the name of “Boots and Badges”. Our key audience was directly intended to reach law enforcement and fire department personnel and their supporters.

Objectives: 1) To generate 200 or more units or “pints” of blood during July from Sarasota County law enforcement and fire department personnel and their supporters. Just one blood donation can help save up to 3 lives.
2) To secure 100% participation by May/June 2006 of 17 agencies invited to compete
3) To gain local media coverage by 3 media outlets (radio, print, TV) during July to help with publicity

Implementation: Law enforcement agencies and fire departments in the area were identified and invited to participate through letters. To attract interest they were enticed by the thought of competition against each other and by winning a large trophy. A kick-off event was planned for June 29th at the Blood Bank with officials from the agencies invited to show their support by starting the competition with a blood donation. 14 people participated during the kick-off event to donate blood. Subsequently, blood drives were set up for the agencies. Email updates and news releases were sent to the teams and the media on a weekly basis to keep the participants informed of their progress. A large traveling trophy and t-shirts were customized for the event. A celebration event was held on August 18th with each participating agency official on hand to watch the trophy pass to the winner.

Evaluation: The 1st Annual Boots and Badges Blood Drive Competition was a success. 1)The first program objective was satisfactorily met considering this was a first time event. 8 out of 17 agencies participated in the event resulting in 47% collaboration. While this was 53% short of goal the outcome was positive and resulted in a tremendous interest proven by the number of blood donations collected and the amount of participation from the agencies. This helped set the stage and benchmark for future “Boots and Badges” events 2) The goal to collect blood donations from 250 people during the one month time frame exceeded all expectations, resulting in 266 donors; the number including 130 donors who had never given blood before the event. 9 blood drives were scheduled from participating agencies. 3) It was hoped that a total of 3 local media outlets (one TV station, radio station and newspaper) would cover the event. In all, the results for the media coverage exceeded our objective. 1 TV story, 1 radio interview and 7 news articles were achieved. The program was also so well received by participants that they mention the excitement to come with a second annual event. The Blood Bank is currently in the process of making the event much larger for 2007 by incorporating a major corporate sponsor, media sponsor, more agency participation and extending the time frame from July to September.

Budget: The budget for the event was minimal with trophy and engraving ($137.50), Food ($96.98), T-Shirts ($487.50 or $1.95 per shirt. 250 ordered) and event Supplies/decoration ($31.48), totaling $753.46.