Canadians’ social media feeds will undoubtedly light up with Bell Canada’s “Let’s Talk Day” messaging on Jan. 28. But the fifth annual mental health initiative is also getting a healthy dose of media attention, as Bell developed its most concerted “Let’s Talk” PR effort to date.
“It’s the biggest, there’s no doubt,” said Mary Deacon, chair of Bell’s Let’s Talk. “Every year, we try to involve more spokespeople, more subject matter experts and different angles. The goal is to make it more interesting for media to pick up stories and talk about mental health.”
On “Let’s Talk Day,” for every text message, wireless and long-distance call made by Bell customers, every tweet using #BellLetsTalk and every Facebook share of the campaign logo, Bell will donate five cents to Canadian mental health programs. Last year, the initiative generated a record-setting 109 million messages, including texts, phone calls, tweets and Facebook shares, bringing its 2014 funding commitment to nearly $5.5 million.
Clara Hughes, a six-time Olympic medalist, has been the national Bell Let’s Talk ambassador since the program launched in 2010. This year, Hughes is featured in a documentary, Clara’s Big Ride, which chronicles her 110-day cross-country bicycle journey to promote mental health awareness. A media screening takes place Jan. 27 at TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto and the film will premiere on Jan. 28 on CTV and CTV Two.
The 2015 Bell “Let’s Talk” team also includes TSN host Michael Landsberg and comedians Howie Mandel and Mary Walsh, who appear in YouTube videos and have given media interviews. In addition, a new team of ambassadors includes professional golfer Andrew Jensen, comedian and writer Kevin Breel, CFL veteran Shea Emry and musician Robb Nash. “The new spokespeople have really given us the opportunity to have new voices and new stories told,” said Deacon.
On Jan. 28, Jensen will participate in a panel discussion about mental health at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa. And Hughes and Quebec spokesperson Michel Mpambara will lead live interactive webcasts linking schools nationwide to encourage youth to talk about mental health.
Bell will also have a presence at upcoming sporting events including the Toronto Raptors game on Jan. 28, where the first 10,000 fans who arrive at the game will receive Bell Let’s Talk toques. The initiative will be featured throughout the game and fans will be encouraged to continue the conversation about mental health by calling, texting and tweeting.
Let’s Talk also has a team of subject matter experts who can provide relevant and accurate information about mental health issues, said Deacon.
“PR has been critical and social media is critical because it puts people’s faces and human stories right in the centre of this,” said Deacon. “And that is how you tackle stigma.”