The successful push to turn Sept. 11 into a national day of service has been spearheaded by two PR pros -- David Paine and Jay Winuk.
The duo founded the non-profit My Good Deed and signed up key sponsors as it successfully lobbied in 2009 to have Congress and the president declare the date a National Day of Service and Remembrance. The organization's "I Will" campaign has encouraged millions of people to volunteer each year in myriad community service projects on "9/11 Day." It has also partnered with Scholastic and other groups to help teachers talk to students about the 9/11 attacks.
Winuk's brother, a lawyer and volunteer firefighter, was killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center towers. "We all showed the best of human nature after 9/11," the PR exec, an alum of Burson-Marsteller and GolinHarris who now heads Winuk Communications, told NPR today. "We wanted to kind of capture that spirit of compassion in a bottle once a year."
While the pair's campaign has grown exponentially, there is still some lifting to be done on the PR front. A survey by Horizon Consumer Science found this week that while more than 100 million people have volunteered in the last two years on Sept. 11, only three in 10 Americans are aware of day's designation as a day of service.
Paine, who founded and ran PainePR in Irvine, Calif., before selling the firm in 2008, told the AP this week that the group garners about 50,000 posts each year on social media of people saying what good deeds they planned for 9/11. "Our goal all along was just that something good would come from this day."