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PR vox pops

For me, one of the most impactful healthcare PR campaigns in the last 10 years was the Everyman male cancer awareness campaign conducted by the Institute of Cancer Research.

1) For me, one of the most impactful healthcare PR campaigns in the last 10 years was the Everyman male cancer awareness campaign conducted by the Institute of Cancer Research.

It was a highly visible campaign making use of PR, political lobbying, the internet and advertising to communicate to a wide target audience. It undoubtedly removed some of the stigma around male cancers and, particularly with testicular cancer, exceeded its objective of making many young men aware of the disease and the importance of self-examination.

A key element was the involvement of Robbie Williams as the campaign's figurehead. This was an inspired choice that appealed to men and drew the attention of women who play an important role in encouraging their partners to seek health advice and treatment.

Everyman also marks its 10th anniversary this year, a testament to its success. It is an excellent example of using many elements of PR and marketing in a wide-reaching campaign.

Cherry Wood, MD, Athena Medical PR



missing image file2) In 2002, Lilly was preparing to launch an innovative new drug for sepsis, but faced a splintered target audience, no consensus on treatment and management and precious little general awareness of the problem.

From this sad position the Surviving Sepsis Campaign (SSC) was born. A tightly focused, highly measurable and outcomes-centred campaign, SSC grew from a tiny acorn into a (still) growing major oak.

Most of you will have never heard of it - possibly because you werenít the target audience - but SSC brought together all three medical associations around the world, created a global call to action, a consensus on management and is now delivering change packages for local implementation.

Why do I feel that his humble programme deserves recognition? Because everyone benefited (client, prescribers and patients). The return on investment was high and measurable, it was focused and targeted and it was a completely innovative idea. Everything a good PR campaign should be.

Paul Keirnan, director of PR, Sudler & Hennessey



3) Jamie Oliver's Feed Me Better Campaign has changed the face of school dinners. The reason I have chosen this campaign is because it instigated a behavioural change among school heads, teachers, dinner ladies, parents and children across the UK. Having seen the change first hand in my own childrenís school leaves me in awe of what he has achieved.

Over 270,000 people signed the Feed Me Better petition that Jamie delivered to Prime Minister, Tony Blair, along with his own White Paper listing a manifesto for change. And the government took action - pledging an extra GBP 280m to be spent on school dinners. The critical factor behind this campaign is that Jamie has taken a long-term strategy, following through his first campaign with a website which highlights his manifesto for change, tips for lobbying local MPs and downloadable action packs for parents. Jamie Oliver has used his expertise and fame to shame us into changing our behaviour - an impressive deliverable.

Catherine Warne, MD, Red Door Communications



4)
Many campaigns use a whole gamut of communications techniques. What distinguishes the best is that these techniques act synergistically. So it was with Cancer Research UK's campaign, Smokefree Action, which called for a smoking ban in all workplaces including all pubs. It used not just PR but lobbying, advertising, and marketing. Media coverage helped the lobbying; activities aimed at government fed back into the media, as did marketing and direct mail techniques.

The campaign was quoted more than 1,000 times in newspaper articles and broadcast stories. Some 92 per cent of MPs were contacted by constituents as part of the campaign, each MP receiving an average of 15 emails or letters.

Public support for a ban increased from around 50 per cent in 2004 to 71 per cent in December 2005. Such was the groundswell of public opinion that the Prime Minister, the Chancellor, the Secretary of State for Health and 91 per cent of Labour MPs voted against their own manifesto commitment. Parliament voted for a complete ban on smoking in workplaces and enclosed public places.

Neil Kendle, MD, Kendle Healthcare



5) The best PR campaign in the last 10 years would have to have achieved some very special things. Achievements like: building a complete belief and movement in a marketplace; extending over time into new areas of influence; continuing to add benefit over a long time.

My offering here is the most amazing series of PR campaigns that are continuing even now. It is cholesterol. It is the statins. It is the whole unfolding story.

Many of us will have been involved since the early 1990s in communicating the science, the data and the success against a backdrop of: This stuff cannot be that good; who is going to reimburse it? Are whole segments of populations going to benefit? Aahh!!, side effects at last, we told you this could not be that good! Wow, statins are now going to used where? And we are still working on campaigns. Phenomenal.

Nick May, head of healthcare, Hill & Knowlton



missing image file6) The PR campaign of the decade that we most admire at Porter Novelli as having made a real impact on the health of the nation is the consolidated effort of a broad range of stakeholders that has resulted in this year's smoke-free workplace and public places legislation.

This has been in effect true social marketing - with multiple stakeholders in the NHS, DoH commercial and voluntary sector working together to a common goal. They researched what's worked across the world, conducted canny segmentation of the health marketplace and segmented the audience to drive change on a national and regional level. Then, they utilised the full range of communications disciplines to achieve the maximum possible impact. This is a communications campaign that Health Minister, Caroline Flint, said will deliver the biggest improvement in public health in 50 years - a campaign with real impact and a real health outcome!

Rebecca Hunt, director, Porter Novelli



7)
Herceptin gets my vote. A concerted - and early - communications programme across key stakeholders ensured that everyone was kept in the loop in the development stages. In fact, a couple of times it almost got ahead of itself and the data had to play catch up having been heralded a saviour to women with breast cancer.

In reality what the campaign achieved was a persistent 'head of steam' to drive the product through several hurdles post initial licensing, including a rocky NICE approval and then on to ensuring access to drug on a local level. In fact, I am sure the campaign will continue as it remains a very emotive one for younger women with early breast cancer that has won the hearts and minds of the media and their audiences.

Chrissie Ashley, chairman, Ashley Communications



missing image file8) Without a doubt the PR campaign behind the little blue diamond pill is the best of the last decade. I don't know who Pfizer used to support the communications, or how proactive or reactive the promotion was in the UK, but at the end of the day Viagra is THE most famous and recognisable medication ever. I called my dad to validate my theory and he described it immediately. If it was proactive, it was an amazing campaign; if it was reactive, I would think it was even better. Managing that amount of media interest is a phenomenal achievement. The drug transformed the media landscape for the following 10 years, marrying lifestyle and medicines. It broke a major taboo - very little is now off limits, and important but "embarrassing" health issues can be openly discussed.

I checked with my dad, he doesn't need to use it!

Neil Crump, MD, Aurora Communications



9) The campaigning activity of the last decade which really stands out for me is that undertaken by Diabetes UK. Starting in 2000, the charity ran the Missing Million campaign. The aim was two-fold: to highlight the ignorance associated with diabetes, and to encourage those at risk to seek diagnosis.

A classic disease awareness campaign, it was - literally - everywhere you went that summer. Cleverly, the charity combined the campaign launch with its own re-brand and launched a comprehensive report comparing public perception with the reality of diabetes. Partnerships were set up with providers of diabetes testing to encourage people to come forward. To date over one million people have been tested for diabetes. The campaigning efforts continue, and Diabetes UK's 2006 Measure Up was the largest and most high-profile awareness campaign in the organisation's history, resulting in more than 150,000 people at risk of diabetes getting tested for the condition in 2006.

Sarah Hart, business development director, Munro & Forster

2nd September 2008

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