By: Nick Skorupski
Eric Benderoff is senior vice president at Burson Cohn & Wolfe and a member of the Department of Advertising + Public Relations’ Professional Advisory Board. As a PAB member, Benderoff consults with department faculty to share industry insights and assists in course development. At Burson Cohn & Wolfe, he works with Special Olympics International, for whom he has helped develop messaging during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since its inception in 1968, the Special Olympics has given millions of athletes with both physical and intellectual disabilities the opportunity to participate in competitive sports. Until it was founded, opportunities for those with disabilities to participate in sports were few and far between. Benderoff says that public relations helps promote the amazing services this special organization provides.
“The Special Olympics bring dentists to the games. They do that because many of these young men and women haven’t been to the dentist in 10 years,” Benderoff said.
Benderoff says that the COVID-19 pandemic has provided another avenue for the Special Olympics to promote its extensive healthcare services.
With the current push for the public to get vaccinated for COVID-19, Benderoff says it has been more difficult to get other healthcare messaging through to the public. However, he says in other ways, the pandemic has increased the Special Olympics’ messaging platform.
“On one hand, it [the pandemic] gave the opportunity to tell this story and shed light on intellectual disabilities through the COVID lens, but on the other hand, that COVID lens is very specific,” Benderoff said.
The organization’s “Call-to-Action” program was designed to keep its athlete audience active and engaged amidst the pandemic by arranging calls with modern sports heroes including American tennis player, Madison Keys, and Super Bowl champion, Cameron Brate, of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Benderoff says that nimble public relations strategy is helping Special Olympics International garner increased support for their programs, as well as an increased awareness among the general public for the many services the organization provides.
Students can connect with Benderoff and other members of the AD+PR PAB on ComArtSci Connect.