Bridge House/Grace House
Bridge House began in 1957 when a group of alcoholics trying to recover realized that alcoholics and addicts living on the street had little chance for recovery. The organization has transitioned over the years from being strictly a shelter for the homeless and addicted to becoming a long-term intensive alcohol and drug addiction treatment center. Grace House, a similar organization that serves women, was incorporated into Bridge House as one operation in 2006.
In 2015, Bridge House Grace House (BH GH) sought to work with a public relations agency to provide ongoing media and community relations support to increase awareness of its impact in the community and better position the organization for fundraising.
Gambel Communications worked with the organization’s CEO and development team to identify priorities and implement a proactive public relations plan. Services included general strategy and planning; ongoing media relations; community outreach and speaking opportunities; award nominations and partnerships/sponsorships support.
Gambel developed overall messaging to highlight BH GH’s significance and created standardized media materials. The team launched an aggressive publicity campaign using the organization’s special events and national awareness markers as news hooks to garner media coverage.
To maintain interest throughout the year, Gambel Communications and BH GH established an editorial calendar of storylines related to the evolution of substance abuse treatment and its impact on local citizens; the issue of dealing with chronically ill individuals in New Orleans and the importance of comprehensive treatment involving workforce development training; and painting the picture of lifelong recovery with a look into personal success stories of those touched by addiction.
The team also worked each month to identify speaking opportunities across the metro area where Development Director Kevin Gardere could tell his own story of recovery and talk about the impact BH GH has on the community.
In 2016, Gambel Communications crafted a strategic marketing plan to leverage the organization’s 60th anniversary, which would be celebrated in 2017. The plan included recommendations on how to incorporate the anniversary theme into existing events, as well as new ideas for tactics that could be implemented to mark the occasion. For example, Gambel conceptualized the idea of a mural project in collaboration with the Arts Council of New Orleans that will tell the story of addiction through a large-scale community art installation around the city. Powerful impact metrics would be painted in conspicuous, relevant walls throughout New Orleans to commemorate the dire need for treatment services as well as celebrate those who have overcome, creating an air of mystery and vast awareness of BH GH’s work among locals. Gambel’s role entails all aspects of the partnership, from identifying a sponsor dedicated to arts education, cultivation and stewardship of this donor relationship – along with execution via the Arts Council: identifying the best artist, conducting media relations and telling the story of the murals’ relevance.
In the last two years, Gambel Communications has consistently earned media coverage for BH GH’s events and placed evergreen stories related to programs and impact. Highlights include a broadcast story with local Fox affiliate WVUE-TV in May 2016 telling the story of one recovered addict turned General Manager of Pinkberry in New Orleans, citing the local employer as a dedicated partner in helping those in recovery get back on their feet. Other notable coverage includes a package story with local ABC affiliate WGNO-TV in February 2017, depicting one woman’s journey from heroin addiction to becoming a mother and partner, managing a local coffee house and transforming her life for the sake of her children, thanks to the staff of Grace House. This story also focused on BH GH’s development director, also a former resident of Bridge House, describing his own journey to sobriety and success, as well as what it will take to solve the current opioid crisis in the city.
Additionally, the Gambel team has secured more than a dozen speaking opportunities over the last year with rotaries, Lion’s Clubs, neighborhood associations, chambers, etc.. Most importantly, BH GH looks to the Gambel team as trusted advisors and members of its team for all communications efforts.