In April 2019, as the Russian-backed Assad regime began a new offensive on Syria’s Idlib province, the Syrian American Council began vehemently planning for a comprehensive media campaign to bring awareness to the largest humanitarian crisis since WWII, while attempting to preemptively minimize the devastation to civilians.
Meanwhile, Dr. Omar Ibrahim, a young Egyptian neurosurgeon working in one of the few remaining hospitals, knew he could not stay. But returning to President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s Egypt risked detention or execution. His visa to Turkey had expired. Several attempts to get permission to cross the border had been unsuccessful.
Recognizing the compelling nature of Dr. Omar’s experiences, the communications team, led by communications director Michelle Taylor, developed a campaign to use his story to highlight the horrors faced on the ground – and to get Dr. Omar to safety.
The campaign, which successfully raised Dr. Omar’s public profile and ultimately led to his safe passage into Turkey, has now been recognized by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) with two prestigious media and communications industry awards: a PRSA Bronze Anvil Award of Commendation and a PRSA Chicago Skyline Award of Excellence.
PRSA is the nation’s leading professional organization serving the communications community and is the principal advocate for industry excellence and ethical conduct. For more than 45 years, PRSA's Bronze Anvil Awards have recognized the best of the best in public relations tactics that contribute to the success of overall programs or campaigns. PRSA Chicago’s Skyline Awards are Chicago’s premier public relations and communications awards competition, celebrating creativity and innovation in public relations and showcasing impact and results.
In addition to Dr. Omar’s safe departure into Turkey, the campaign reached several milestones, including:
- Securing six high-profile feature stories prior to Dr. Omar’s safe escape, in outlets including the New York Times, NPR, BBC, and Turkey’s pro-government newspaper, Yeni Şafak.
- At least 248,696,550 total impressions – the number of times the stories were displayed across print, online and social media.
- A Saturday Profile feature in The New York Times, for the first time ever detailing Dr. Omar’s story, once he was safely residing in Turkey.
Read more about Dr. Omar’s story in the Oct. 11, 2019 New York Times Saturday Profile.