One of our longtime clients, Nevada Cancer Coalition (NCC), decided they wanted to paint Nevada pink in October. Not because they’re secret graffiti aficionados or that they wanted to look at the world through rose-colored glasses. No, this was for a much more important reason — to talk about the importance of regular breast cancer screenings for women.
While many of us are very aware of the importance of mammograms, these screenings are significantly down this year because of COVID. And that’s an especially big problem in Nevada, where it’s estimated that 2,190 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2020, with 400 lives being lost to this disease. Unfortunately, Nevada's mammography rate currently sits at 67 percent — below the national average of 72.4 percent.
The annual #PaintNevadaPink initiative was born in 2019 and designed to shine a rosy-hued spotlight on the importance of early detection and to encourage people throughout the state to pledge to schedule their mammograms.
While October is always the month for focusing on breast cancer awareness, things were a bit different this year. (Notice we didn’t reference “unprecedented times”? Well, with the exception of that reference right there, that is.) Due to social distancing guidelines, there was no Komen Race for the Cure or other traditionally pink-hued events. NCC was also not able to replicate last year’s community gathering downtown when they turned the Reno Arch pink.
So what do you do when all of your events get cancelled? You invite the entire state to participate — separately, but together.
We brainstormed with our NCC colleagues and came up with the idea of making the event even bigger through the magic of technology. So, instead of just turning the Reno Arch pink, the Las Vegas Welcome Sign changed colors, as did many other iconic locations in Las Vegas. In Northern Nevada, the City of Sparks went pink at the pool at the Sparks Community Center. And you may have noticed the pink tint to many local businesses, including the Peppermill, Grand Sierra Resort, Circus Circus, Saint Mary’s Medical Center, Renown Health’s LOVE sign and the Whitney Peak climbing wall.
A veritable who’s who of Nevada dignitaries joined in the celebration by sharing their support at press events and through their social media platforms. They included Nevada First Lady Kathy Sisolak, Lieutenant Governor Kate Marshall, Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, Reno Councilwoman Neoma Jardon and former University of Nevada, Reno President Marc Johnson.
Employers were invited to “pink up their business” by lighting up their exteriors, encouraging employees to wear pink and encouraging them to take time off for these important cancer screenings. Northern Nevadans pinked up their homes through special pink light bulbs that could be purchased for $25 from Moana Nursery, with that money going to help uninsured and underinsured women. Pets even got into the fun through the #PinkPets initiative, where they could sport their salmon sunglasses, coral collars or rosy ribbons.
Video: Watch Nevada go pink: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYU1p4yTQxA
Shining a Pink Light on All of This
Okay, that’s the separately part, but how to bring it all together? We helped NCC figure out the technical logistics of going live on Facebook from both ends of the state at the same time. Then they were able to keep the momentum going through the entire month through social media posts showing off different people, places and things as they joined in the pink parade.
To let even more people know what all the pink was about, we knew we needed media help. Members of the Estipona Group picked up our own pink lightbulbs, wrapped up all pretty in gift boxes, and dropped them off, along with media advisories, at news outlets throughout Northern Nevada. NCC’s Las Vegas firm was also working their end of the state. Together, we were able to get the word out statewide, reaching all of our TV, radio and print outlets with the important message that early detection saves lives.
Some of us (okay, one of us) used the opportunity to buy a new salmon-colored sweater and then joined the NCC crew in downtown Reno on Friday, Oct. 2 to welcome all of our local TV stations, along with the Reno Gazette-Journal and This is Reno for the countdown to the Reno Arch going pink. Big shout-out to the folks at Yesco for the hours that went into changing out 1,600 lightbulbs!
Now It’s Your Turn
You can see more pink at www.facebook.com/PaintNevadaPink. But even more importantly, women, please visit nevadacancercoalition.org/pnp and pledge to get your mammogram. And men, if you love a woman, whether it’s your mom, your wife, sister or daughter, please encourage her to do the same.
This initiative obviously took a great deal of collaboration, and we very much enjoyed working with NCC and the other agencies involved in pulling this off. If it’s not completely clear, we love partnering with creative people in organizing the many moving parts involved in something like this. If your organization is looking for creative ways to put on events, get the attention of your audiences or (double bonus) help make the community better, give us a call.