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Russell Sage Foundation Case Study: Sparking Debate With Cutting Edge Research

    • The Challenge

      The Russell Sage Foundation is one of America's leading homes for cutting edge research and behavioral economics. As the foundation's PR firm of record, BerlinRosen promotes their many outstanding books, which cover crucial topics but ones that don't always get the mainstream attention they deserve. In 2012, the foundation published Invisible Men, in which sociologist Becky Pettit exposed what she calls the “myth of black progress”—the shocking omission of incarcerated black men from virtually all national demographic surveys. Invisible Men is critically important but difficult to communicate given its heavy emphasis on academic research and data. And it can be a hard sell, as it forces Americans to look at something they would often rather not face—the reality of race in America.

    • The BerlinRosen Approach

      BerlinRosen worked aggressively to put the book in front of writers, scholars and commentators who care about race and demographics, working to move beyond the traditional circuit of “reviews” and put Becky in conversation and debate with others about her research. We organized a press call with bloggers and reporters; placed a series of op-eds; and pitched a series of “think” pieces to outlets with a focus on the ideas covered by Invisible Men. We also worked to reach out to both mainstream and progressive media, engaging the “choir” for the book but also a broader audience that Russell Sage Foundation and Becky hoped would be exposed to the book.

    • The Outcome

      Invisible Men earned coverage in Business Week, The Guardian, BET and The Wall Street Journal. Becky Pettit was interviewed on MSNBC's “The Cycle,” and Pettit authored several op-eds including in GOOD and Huffington Post. The New York Times, writing on Invisible Men in the October 28th, 2012 Sunday Review, described Pettit's research in detail in “How Prisoners Make Us Look Good,” a news analysis by Sam Roberts. The piece reflected an important moment for Invisible Men—an informed debate about the book's central thesis in the New York Times.