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Behind the Curtains at Orkin's Fight the Bite

In June I profiled Orkin's Fight the Bite campaign, which benefits the UN's effort called Nothing But Nets, a cause that purchases insecticide-treated mosquito nets for people in Africa so as to stave off malaria, a vicious killer on the continent.

In the wake of that post, I asked Martha Craft, the VP of public relations and communications at Rollins, Inc., Orkin's parent company, to 'open the Kimono' on the campaign. Ms. Craft was kind enough to respond.

1. How did the campaign come about?
Fight the Bite was a natural fit for Orkin because it directly relates to our business and our ongoing commitment to protect public health. This commitment is two-fold: 1) we have strategic partnerships with organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and 2) we educate our customers on the threats/risks that pests can pose.

In 2007, we learned about the UN Foundation’s Nothing But Nets campaign – a global, grassroots effort to save lives by preventing malaria, a mosquito-borne disease and leading killer of children in Africa. Although malaria isn’t prevalent in the U.S., mosquitoes do pose a health risk here because they can carry West Nile virus. At the presentation to upper management, there was immediate agreement and enthusiasm that Fight The Bite was an important way that Orkin could make a difference and save lives around the world. We launched the program through a live satellite broadcast to our coworkers nationwide, and they embraced it with tremendous passion. We are in our second year of the campaign, and the support has only strengthened.
2. What are Orkin's goals for the campaign?
Ultimately, we want to save lives by helping stop the spread of malaria in Africa. We also want to help American homeowners reclaim their yards from mosquitoes. This year, we pledged to raise at least $150,000 through consumer and employee contributions as well as mosquito sales (Orkin gives one net for each mosquito sale made this year). With the funds we raise, Nothing But Nets will distribute at least 15,000 insecticide-treated mosquito bed nets to the areas of greatest need in Africa and teach recipients how to use them properly. Through June, we’ve raised more than $114,000.
3. How do you measure the campaign's success?
We measure the success by raising awareness and funds through:
1. Employee Engagement: Employees can purchase nets through a special internal net drive, by making payroll deductions or by purchasing nets directly on our website: nets.orkin.com.
2. Mosquito Sales: Every time a customer purchases Orkin’s mosquito service this year, we contribute one net to Nothing But Nets.
3. Consumer Engagement: Consumers, Orkin friends and family can buy nets at nets.orkin.com – whether they purchase mosquito service or not.
4. Who put the campaign together?
Orkin, Jackson Spalding (our public relations agency) and our partners at Nothing But Nets.
5. Nothing But Nets seems really grassroots. How does that relationship work?
Nothing But Nets is a fantastic organization with many partners and sponsors. We work closely on communications initiatives, community outreach and events with their team based out of Washington D.C. Nothing But Nets hosts City Tours around the country, which we have participated in on a local level. They’re also very open to our suggestions to expand the program.
6. Has anyone from Orkin been to Africa to see the donations 'on the ground'?
Not yet! We just announced a new Fight the Bite employee essay contest where Orkin employees can win a trip to Africa with Nothing But Nets to distribute nets themselves and visit the people we’re helping in person. To enter, Orkin employees submit a short essay (150 words or less) about their Fight the Bite experiences and how the campaign has impacted their lives, their community and/or Orkin. A panel of Rollins executives and public health partners (like NBN) will judge the essays and the winner will be announced this fall. Plans for the Africa trip are still underway, but it will likely take place in the first quarter 2010.

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