“Water You Waiting For?” A Collaboration With Students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic

This is a contributed post by students year two students in the Advertising & Public Relations diploma programme at Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s School of Film & Media Studies. The authors are students Deborah Ooi, Zachary Sng, Ester Porter, Jerome Lum and Ridha Fakhira.

“Water You Waiting For?” — that was the question our team of five wanted to pose to the youth of Singapore. With Lien AID as our project client, we were tasked to come up with a public relations campaign proposal to raise awareness of the devastating effects of water pollution regionally and globally in connection with Singapore World Water Day. Our job was to generate ideas to influence change in social attitudes and behaviours towards water pollution. At the start, we had a few uncertainties. How were we going to convince our youth that our actions on this tiny island called Singapore have a huge impact on the lives of others around the world? How were we going to encourage them to take steps to alleviate the problem? This was a tall order indeed; but after working on several PR school projects over the past year-and-a-half, a community service campaign was indeed a refreshing change and we were pumped and ready for the challenge.

Through our research, we discovered that our primary target public – Singapore tertiary students – were well aware and concerned about water pollution and its revolving issues. However, the pressing problem was that they were not taking action in combatting it. With this insight, we proceeded to develop an integrated PR campaign with the aim of reaching out to youth to join the battle against water pollution.

We wanted to ignite a change amongst youth. In order to achieve that, we decided to focus on the use of social media and experience-based direct engagement. Our earlier research findings helped to identify specific, impactful issues to highlight in our messaging strategy. For example, we learnt that water pollution is a serious, international problem with the major contributor being the incorrect disposal of substances. We also discovered that there are several, large oceanic garbage patches spread across the five main oceans. Those were the issues that we wanted to highlight in our communication materials, alongside the accessible steps that the public could take to alleviate the water pollution issue.

Deborah, our team’s ‘Account Director’, ensured the cohesiveness and efficacy of all components of the campaign in order to achieve what we set out to do, which was to communicate the message “Don’t wait, act now” – highlighting salient issues in a manner that was engaging and easy to understand.

Jerome, our ‘Media Relations Specialist’, came up with our campaign’s quirky tagline, “Water You Waiting For?”, which encapsulated the key messages of our campaign. The objective was to prompt the youth of Singapore to take immediate action to combat water pollution. We wanted to emphasise that every single minute counts. The longer one waits, the more lives are at stake due to exposure with or contact with contaminated water bodies and sources.

Zachary and Esther, our ‘Research Director’ and ‘Creative Director’ respectively, came up with the design concept. With the use of cartoons and vibrant colours, we managed to present our campaign in a light-hearted manner that would appeal to the millennial generation.

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Ridha, our ‘Social Media Specialist’, devised a full social media response protocol to address the risks and opportunities that social media can bring as we drive our focus to engaging the youth through platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

In spite of our specific roles, we worked as one team to develop ideas and contribute to every aspect of our campaign. We were also blessed with the mentorship of Mr. Idran Junadi and Ms. Adele Soh from The Hoffman Agency, from whom we gained powerful, eye-opening insights that gave us the extra “oomph” we needed in our campaign. It was truly an incredible experience to learn from industry professionals and hone our skills as future PR practitioners.

With this project, we are thankful to Lien AID, The Hoffman Agency, and Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s School of Film & Media Studies for giving us this unique opportunity. The learning for us went beyond strategic PR planning to a deeper appreciation and understanding of the issue at hand. This project truly opened our eyes to the reality and prevalence of water pollution. Although we may not feel the direct impact of water pollution here in Singapore, we have come to understand the consequences of our actions, which can affect millions of people in other countries. Indeed, every little restorative action can help to alleviate the issue. So, ‘water’ you waiting for?