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Case study: how Youth Mental Health Foundation took on cyberbullying one word at at time


Case study: how Youth Mental Health Foundation took on cyberbullying one word at at time


Cyberbullying creates millions of victims around the world. Reword activates and encourages change within the world of online bullying by targeting bullying behaviour before it happens.

This case study originally appeared in The Versus Issue, our February/March issue of Marketing magazine.


MK0217 200Cyberbullying is quickly becoming one of society’s most serious problems, creating millions of victims around the world. With no mainstream monitoring systems or programming on social media or digital platforms, bullies are sending hurtful abuse into the world.

Reword is a tool activating and encouraging change within the world of online bullying by stopping the behaviour before it happens. Acting as a real-time alert, Reword identifies hurtful words on social media platforms, prompting young people to reword their message or post.

It also provides users with the means to upload hurtful words, ensuring that the tool is continually updated and stimulating a sense of ownership with everyone that uses Reword. The tool was created by global communications agency Leo Burnett Melbourne in partnership with national youth mental health foundation, Headspace.

InsideOut Public Relations was engaged to manage the public relations campaign and launch Reword to the Australian market.

The publicity campaign needed to raise awareness for this Australian-first technology among the key target market – commencing with zero base knowledge of the tool.



The objectives were to generate strong public, influencer and brand awareness of Reword and maximise downloads, to engage with relevant stakeholders and generate national support of the tool, to maximise editorial coverage in key mainstream media and speciality media, and to encourage downloads and content sharing.



The campaign was underpinned by research that revealed the extent of bullying and its larger community impact. Approximately 463,000 young people are bullied online in Australia each year, and victims of online abuse are up to nine times more likely to engage in self-harm and suicidal ideation. In Australia, 72% of Aussie teens go online more than once a day, with 58% accessing Facebook.

Australia ranks number one in the world for bullying on social networks.

Bullying has moved from schoolyards to social media, but children don’t think about the effect their words can really have. Two schools piloted and tested the tool ahead of the launch and research indicated that 79% of young people (12 to 25 years) are willing to reword when prompted. Research also identified key celebrities and influencers who have been affected by online bullying.

Target audience, influencers and stakeholder identification and analysis

The strategy defined the target audience, key social influencers and stakeholders for the campaign. The audience was divided into two key groups:

  • Protectors: characterised as parents, educational organisations (including schools, principals and associations), Government (eSafety Commissioner and education MPs) and celebrity influencers, who could install the software at home and in schools and educate youth on appropriate online communication. This included teachers and the principals from the piloting schools of the technology.
  • Users: incorporated the youth market, which needed to be educated and encouraged to use and advocate the tool. This included younger celebrities as influencers and students from the schools that piloted the technology.

The call to action was to encourage downloads by users and protectors, content sharing by protectors and users – and to secure official support of organisations.


Media publicity strategy

Key media outlets were identified the campaign coincided with an established calendar event: National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence. The national day, which is largely highlighted in the media, proved a strong publicity hook, as during the week of the national day there was extra focus and attention on the topic of bullying, making media opportunities relevant.

Both media and spokespeople for the campaign were tailored to reach the protectors and users with distinct strategies, case studies and diverse talent organised for media opportunities.

A 1:1 media approach was undertaken to maximise reach and coverage opportunities. A range of media spokespeople were identified and engaged, including government, in order to provide each media outlet with its own unique story.


Influencer strategy

A communications campaign was implemented to reach protectors and users that have a personal affiliation with or interest in the cause – this covered celebrity and online influencers with an engaged following – and encouraged them to voice their support in and towards traditional media.



A range of case studies was compiled around the country to share the experiences of online bullying and provide media with relatable content for their area.



The call to action centred the campaign messaging. This was to encourage downloads by protectors, content sharing by users – and to secure official support of organisations.


Crisis/issues management

As with any public impact campaign, a crisis and issues response plan and question and answer documentation were developed to secure readiness and consistency in messaging of spokespeople.

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Coinciding with the National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence on 18 March 2016, the publicity campaign was timed to generate exposure from 18 March onwards.


Prelaunch – February/March

Media materials were developed, along with video, imagery and case study generation. Influencer communication materials prepared and targeted media, celebrity and influencer targets finalised. Spokespeople were briefed ahead of launch.


Launch – 18 March

Media, influencer and organisational communications were issued. There was intensive tailored pitching nationally, and influencer engagement.


Ongoing – March/April

Ongoing media, stakeholder and influencer relations. School bodies and associations engaged.



In the first six weeks of the campaign, Reword was installed on 150,000 computers and introduced to more than 260 schools across Australia. headspace is committed to implementing Reword in all Australian schools – while parents now have something they can install at home.

Media coverage in Australia was generated in nearly every leading state paper, and a segment was filmed and broadcast for Channel 9 News. This generated influencers to speak up in the media about their personal online bullying experience. Sam Frost wrote an open letter and referenced using the help of an organisation like headspace, and Imogen Anthony submitted a piece for Mamamia about her personal experiences with online trolls. Interviews were conducted with leading radio, newspaper and magazines with sourced case studies that were relevant to each media outlet, driving listeners and readers to the Reword website.

Reword has clear universal relevance, with global coverage on CNN, Good Morning America, Wired and Mashable contributing to 150 million media impressions, along with personal messages from around the world, from Brazil to the US to Finland. Since launch, Reword has delivered a 67% reduction in bullying behaviour per user. The call to action resonated, generating more than 20,000 insult submissions from young people, creating millions of new combinations.

In the first six weeks Reword saw:

  • 150 million media impressions
  • $500,000 in generated media value
  • 150,000 installs
  • introduction in more than 260 schools
  • 84% of insults reworded
  • 67% reduction in bullying behaviour per user, and
  • over 20,000 insults added.


Reword was recognised with five bronze Lions at the 2016 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity and two silver Spikes at the 2016 Spikes Asia.

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To purchase a copy of The Versus Issue or a subscription to the mag, visit the online shop »

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