YouthCare “Gowns and Giving” Fashion Show
YouthCare, a non-profit organization serving Seattle’s homeless youth, found itself in need of a way to raise awareness for its annual YouthCare Prom. YouthCare’s goal was to generate local media coverage of the organization's work while creating lasting partnerships with the Seattle community.
The Strategic Communications Plan
Vandenberg Communications proposed a prom dress fashion show in which YouthCare clients and other local teens would serve as fashion models. Donated prom dresses would be modeled and sold on-site, with proceeds benefiting YouthCare’s Orion Center for at-risk youth. To underscore the connection to YouthCare’s annual Prom, fashion show attendees were given the option of purchasing the dresses for themselves or for donation to the YouthCare Prom closet, which provides dresses for Prom attendees who would otherwise be unable to afford them. Vandenberg secured donation of a venue for the show as well as a vast array of services from the Seattle creative community, including hair styling, makeup, and jewelry for the event. We also conducted outreach to local schools to find additional peer models for the show. By bringing together YouthCare clients and local high school students on the runway, the event affirmed that homeless youth are not that different from “ordinary” teenagers. To promote this event to local media, Vandenberg crafted and successfully pitched a variety of story ideas designed to raise awareness about YouthCare’s annual Prom and its ongoing work with Seattle’s at-risk and homeless youth. Story pitches also emphasized YouthCare’s connection to the Seattle community by highlighting the collaborative efforts of YouthCare staff and clients, local youth, and Seattle community members and businesses in the production of this event.
The result was a successful media event that procured over 100 dresses for homeless youth while garnering substantial local coverage from both print and television. The coverage highlighted the many community partners that made this event possible while bringing in the stories of YouthCare clients who participated as models in the event. Coverage included: a full-page cover article in the Arts section of The Seattle Post-Intelligencer complete with photos and interview quotes; television stories on local Seattle stations KING and KOMO-TV; a calendar event article in The Seattle Times; and mention in both of Seattle’s weekly papers The Stranger and The Seattle Weekly. The “Gowns and Giving” Fashion Show raised significant funding and awareness for YouthCare and is likely to be an annual event for years to come.