Multicultural Outreach to Save California Citrus

Challenge:

California’s $2 billion citrus industry is at risk of disappearing due to what’s being called the most devastating plant disease in modern history. Huanglongbing, also known as HLB or citrus greening disease, is fatal for citrus trees and has no cure. An invasive pest called the Asian citrus psyllid spreads the disease, and both the insect and disease have been found in California.

One way the Asian citrus psyllid spreads is through travelers bringing citrus plant clippings or fruit back to the U.S. after visiting foreign locales where the insect and disease are prevalent. As such, NST conducted dedicated outreach to multicultural audiences, including Asian Americans residing in California, to educate them on the dangers of transporting citrus during visits to and from other countries.

NST worked with IW Group, a WORLDCOM partner specializing in Asian outreach, on a media campaign that included a press event at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Timed to coincide with the beginning of the summer travel season, NST worked with Customs and Border Protection to gain access to LAX, create a display of citrus material recently confiscated by customs officials, stage a demonstration of canines inspecting luggage, and provide interviews to the multicultural media in attendance. The event highlighted how travelers could unknowingly be harming California’s landscape by transporting plant material from other countries.

Results:

Fifteen media outlets attended the press event at LAX, including major outlets serving Chinese, Korean, Thai, Spanish and English audiences.

At least 23 media placements were earned through interviews and press release distribution.

Website traffic peaked during the outreach period, demonstrating the event and subsequent coverage created a sense of urgency for multicultural audiences to learn how they could play a role in suppression of this deadly plant disease.