The strategic communications major wrote an April 15 article titled “March For Our Lives activism spreads to Times Square” highlighting the movement’s use of billboards in the world-famous commercial intersection and tourist destination in New York City.
In Brendan Duff’s recently published article on PRWeek.com, titled “March For Our Lives activism spreads to Times Square,” the Elon University junior opens his nearly 600-word piece with a series of questions about the methods required to mobilizing “millions of young people” when immediate action is necessary.
“You engage in every way you can with a fierce perseverance, because the stakes couldn’t be higher,” wrote Duff, a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School graduate turned communications strategist for March For Our Lives. Since the Florida school’s February 2018 mass shooting, the student-led demonstration has launched a coordinated and highly visible effort to promote stronger gun violence prevention measures across the country.
Published online on April 15, Duff’s article outlines the movement’s most recent effort to “to engage the public and to keep the gun violence prevention movement front and center.”
Through the end of April, a series of billboards will promote March For Our Lives in Times Square, arguably the most famous entertainment district in the country, located in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. On the billboards, messages such as "I saw my brother get shot. I saw my sister get shot. I saw my son get shot" will scroll by for passersby to read.
After those messages conclude, the words, "Enough. We Want Change" appear on a yellow background, with a number for people to text to get more information about the group and local chapters.
The billboards have already attracted media attention, with articles in The South Florida Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale, which recently won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the Parkland shooting, and New York news site AM New York.
“Over the next 14 days, this unifying message will reach nearly five and a half million people,” Duff wrote.
The billboard campaign is part of a much larger initiative to curb gun violence in America. In 2018, nearly 40,000 Americans were killed by gun violence. More strikingly, students are more likely to be killed by guns than police officers and members of the military.
“March For Our Lives is a multi-faceted organization,” said Duff, the day after his article published. “While a crucial aspect of our mission is advocating for life-saving legislation, our movement has always focused on raising awareness about the gun violence epidemic in our nation.
“The activation piece in Times Square is to remind every day Americans, especially those that don't consider themselves to be politically engaged, that gun violence is not confined to one region or institution in the United States,” he added. “We hope to prompt people into acting with the urgency the epidemic deserves in order to save the 100-plus lives we are losing each day.”
As an alumnus of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Duff undoubtedly has a strong connection to the movement, and he has assisted with the March’s communications strategy since its inception just days after the shooting. He noted that it is “human nature to care more about issues one views as proximal.”
His objective with March For Our Lives is straightforward: to broaden the campaign’s reach and impact. To make people – people who don't think that gun violence will affect them or their community – understand the movement’s relevance in their respective worlds. To show them that the Parkland shooting could – and likely will – happen elsewhere.
“We firmly believe we will be the generation to usher in these changes and to end preventable gun deaths,” wrote Duff in the closing of his article.
This past fall, Duff stepped away from his studies at Elon to work with March For Our Lives. He returned to school during Winter Term, with plans to graduate in spring 2020.
This summer, Duff will complete an internship with Bully Pulpit Interactive, a communications agency in Washington, D.C.