If you haven't yet seen the hashtag #CarseatFullstop yet, or have seen it but aren't sure what it's all about, this post will give you some more info, plus background on how it all started. There are a lot of mom bloggers writing about the campaign, so chances are high that you'll be reading a lot more about it on your timelines and blog feeds.
In short, the campaign #CarseatFullstop, sponsored by Volvo, is to encourage parents to strap up their kids safely in cars, and the mom who started it all is the awesome Mandy Lee Miller, a blogger and mom of one in Cape Town. As a way to introduce the campaign and give you all the info about it, Mandy has answered my questions here:
Tell us about yourself.
I'm mom to 2 year old Charlotte (Charly) Rose and wife to Brett. We live in the southern suburbs of Cape Town with our two fluffy kitties, Trigger and Gizmo. I have a few different businesses, you can see a little more here www.mandyleemiller.com or https://za.linkedin.com/in/mandyleemiller1
My working history is in PR and marketing, primarily in the business, telecommunications and technology industries, but also lifestyle in my last job. My speciality has always been writing and editing, but it turned out I was particluarly good at relationship building and media relations.
In 2013 I left the agency world when I found out I was pregnant. Although I loved the job and the people, the traffic, long hours and lots of pressure weren't what I wanted for my pregnancy or my baby. So I resigned and began freelance PR writing, editing and keeping a small pregnancy diary blog online called Pregnant in Cape Town.
In May 2015, I revamped and relaunched the blog from a "diary" format to a more all-encompassing blog. I updated the brand, added "& Ever After" to better reflect my life, added interviews with other parents about their journeys, started helping promote small mom-owned businesses, all the while sticking to my reputation of being an "honest" blogger who didn't sugarcoat pregnancy and parenthood.
In September last year I teamed up with my amazing friend Laverne Botha and we started South African Sisterhood, a positive women's only Facebook group designed to support, encourage and support women across South Africa. https://www.facebook.com/groups/SASisterhood/
In November last year I took over a small online pregnancy and parenting magazine called Tums 2 Tots Online. I created a team of some of my favourite parenting bloggers from across South Africa, and incorporated the content from some awesome brands. I reworked the business directory to include magazine involvement so they can get the most out of growing their brands from a PR and marketing perspective.
Why did you start #CarSeatFullStoop?
Charly started nursery school in January. It is a gorgeous 30-year-old school in a very upmarket neighbourhood that takes kids between the ages of 2 and 6. Every single day I would see 30 cars at least in the short time I was there to drop her off and pick her up. Of those 30 cars maybe a third were using car seats for their kids.
Every day I watched parents driving crazy expensive cars come flying down this narrow road with their toddlers standing between the seats, standing on the back seats, sitting in the front seat unbuckled, moms holding tiny babies on their laps. Every day I wondered if I would ever see those children again. I spoke to the school and they said they had tried everything to get parents to strap their kids in, but with no change.
I was really really mad and I wrote this blog post. As more people responded and shared more and more stories with me about people they knew that really really just didn't get why it was important to use a car seat, I started getting angrier.
And then one day I realised that I have the superpower of bringing people together, I have an incredibly strong passionate parenting blogging community, I have all the PR and marketing skills to create, launch and manage a campaign that could actually make a REAL difference. So I did what I do best – I found the best people to create a kick-ass team, I researched as much as I could on everything from car seats, to laws on car seats across the world, to the horrible outcomes that not having a car seat can have.
I contacted experts from Arrive Alive, Wheel Well, the head of pediatric neurosurgery at Red Cross Childrens Hospital and ChildSafe SA. I am a big advocate of doing what you are best at and surrounding yourself with the smartest most talented people you can find to focus on the rest. That is how a team works best.
Most importantly, there are some amazing campaigns that encourage people to donate car seats and support causes that work constantly on campaigns around child safety, but nobody flat out educates people on the very real repercussions of NOT using a car seat. 85% of South African children are not strapped in the cars on our roads.
Even though it is illegal. Even though a car seat reduces the risk of your baby dying by 71% and 54% for your toddler. The focus of this campaign is getting the realities out there in a clear and constructive way. To make people feel and actively change their behaviour. To realise that they are literally risking their children's lives.
[c Volvo Cars' new generation child seats[/caption]
What does the campaign involve?
The core of the campaign is a group of 20 "influencers" for want of a better word, 18 bloggers, 1 vlogger and a Twitter(er). We have a collective following of over 500,000 people 🙂 All the bloggers will be working on various aspects of the campaign, focusing on elements that are perfect for them and their audiences – pregnant mommies on new baby car seats, small bubbas mommies on the importance of rear-facing, older mommies on how critical a car seat is between age 4 and 12 years old, and vaious other angles.
Under all of these stories will be the key messaging of how serious the result of NOT using a car seat is.
Then we are also supporting the Car Seats for Kids campaign by Wheel Well. We'll be encouraging people to donate their second hand car seats in a variety of ways for 67 days in honour of the launch falling on Mandela Day.
I'll also be approaching and working with as many nursery schools as I can manage and getting their support in sharing our messaging with the parents in various ways.
We are hoping to do giveaways, media and blog drops, bumper stickers and potentailly a few activations. I am working with a few amazing brands to find exciting ways to reach as many people as possible.
And then there is a media element as well, where I am tapping into my old PR skills and researching, interviewing for and writing strong newsworthy articles to get the campaign out into the media.
Who is part of the campaign, and why did you want so many voices in it?
Those involved include:
- Cassan Ferguson – Leather Jacket Foxes
- Celeste Booysen – Being Me
- Chereen Strydom – For the Beauty of It
- Cindy Alfino – 3 Kids, 2 Dogs & 1 Old House
- Jonelle du Pont – Tyranny of Pink
- Laura Kim Le Roux – Harassed Mom, South African Mom Blogs
- Leigh Geary – The Mom Diaries
- Lindi Mogale – A Well Heeled Woman
- Lindsay Leigh Thomas – Love Made Me
- Mandy Lee Miller – Pregnant in Cape Town, Tums 2 Tots Online, South African Sisterhood
- Mariza (Maz) Halliday – Caffeine & Fairydust
- Megan Kelly Botha – By Megan Kelly
- Melissa De La Croix – Pretty Messy Melon
- Sarah Huddy – The Mommy City
- Shanéy Vijendranath – You, Baby & I
- Sharon Van Wyk – The Blessed Barrenness
- Susan Smits – @AllCapeTown on Twitter
- Tanya Kovarsky – Rattle and Mum
- Terence Mentor – AfroDaddy
- Tracey Grammer-Porter – The Milk Memoirs
- Zoe Hawkins – BornGeek
- Design: Philipa Jane Farley & Sarah van der Bank – Delish Design.
Brands officially on board supporting us so far, Kids Emporium, Gumtree, Babe Bee; with some more in the wings.
Essentially, I love the blogging community and I am a huge believer of the value and relevance that their voices bring to whatever they support. I chose a wide variety of bloggers, because each of them has a unique voice and personality to bring to this message. We share some of our audiences, but we also have our own audiences.
The underlying message remains #CarseatFullstop. No ifs or buts. Every child in a car seat every time no matter what. But there are so many reasons WHY this is the case and so many ways you can make sure your children are safe, the more voices sharing this message, the more information that gets out there, the safer our society will be for our babies.
A parent seeing one article, can read it and move on. Seeing articles saying different things in different ways everywhere they turn, with one core message under it all – something is likely to speak to them in a way they relate to and then the message stays.
Sharing is the biggest call to action of this campaign. Getting as much information to as many people as possible. Every person has the power to save a little life. One share, seen by one person, who straps in one child, saves a life. Saves a lot of lives, if you consider what is left of a family after losing a child. The support I have put together to share this message has more than 2 million single human beings following them so far. Imagine if every single one of those people took a second to hit that share button?Volvo Cars' new generation child seats[/caption]
Who are you targeting with the campaign?
Everybody. You don't have to be a parent to learn the importance of using car seats. You have people who are parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, godparents, future parents in your networks online and offline. You sharing what you learn could save a child's life. The very best result would be a shift in the attitude of all of South African society to recognise how critically important it is to use a car seat every single time a child is in a car.
The more direct audience would be parents, grandparents and other caregivers. Although we have elements of the campaign that adress those who can't afford a new seat, the core campaign is aimed at those who can afford them and yet still don't use them.
How long will the campaign go on for?
The core camapign is running for 10 weeks. The secondary Car Seats for Kids campaign support will run for 67 days, which is exactly 9 weeks. I am hoping to make this an annual campaign.
What is the most alarming stat/fact you’ve discovered through the campaign?
I am haunted by a lot of the things I have learned. It has made my passion for making this campaign as big and as far reaching as possible huge.
The one that stuck with me from day one though was, "At 40km per hour the blow to your unrestrained child’s head making contact with any part of the car is the same as dropping him/her from 6 meters (19 feet) onto concrete."
Do you realise how slow 40kmph is? Check next time you are driving. Six meters is about 3 stories high, so the force that your baby will be thrown into the back of the seat, other passengers, the windscreen or straight out the side windows, is the same as throwing them off the roof of a double story onto concrete.
What is the one thing you wish everyone would know about car seat safety?
Somebody else has done all the work for you!!! Something so very simple, designed specifically to protect the most precious gift you were ever given. All you have to do is use it – every single time you get in the car – and you reduce your baby's chance of dying or being left permanently disabled by 70% No amount of risk is acceptable.
#CarseatFullstop. No ifs or buts. Every child in a car seat every time no matter what.
#CarseatFullstop is sponsored by Volvo Cars. You can download the free Children and Cars Manual here.