Campaigns: Healthcare - NHS Anglia delivers a clear message

Campaign: Be Clear on Cancer
Client: NHS Anglia Cancer Network
PR teams: Grayling/Kindred
Timescale: May-September 2011
Budget: £150,000

Grayling was appointed by NHS Anglia Cancer Network to deliver a comprehensive PR campaign letting people know about the common symptoms of cancer. Grayling delivered the overall campaign in partnership with Kindred, which handled a more local-level stakeholder engagement and face-to-face engagement campaign.

OBJECTIVES

- To raise awareness of the symptoms of breast, bowel and lung cancer among over-fifties in the Anglia region

- To increase the number of people visiting their GP with possible symptoms of these cancers.

STRATEGY AND PLAN

Grayling's strategy was to reach out to people in their own environments, with the aim of engaging in meaningful conversations. The PR campaign had a number of strands, including a video developed for use at the launch that featured real-life people telling their stories.

May's launch event was held in the Cambridge Research Institute and was attended by about 70 stakeholders including GPs, cancer specialists, charity representatives, MPs, community group leaders and cancer survivors. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley was secured as the keynote speaker, and attendees were given a campaign toolkit to take home.

A series of roadshows followed, with a Be Clear on Cancer branded trailer used as a focal point at each event. Each event was promoted, giving local people the opportunity to talk to specially trained staff, watch the campaign video and take home symptom cards. Photos of the roadshows were issued to local media to maximise awareness of the campaign.

Media relations were split into phases, with the first raising awareness of, and encouraging attendance at, the roadshows. Statistics from an NHS-commissioned survey on cancer awareness were used to create a news story to highlight the lack of knowledge about cancer, while another news story focused on what stops people visiting the doctor. A washroom poster campaign appeared in pubs, bars and shopping centres across the region.

MEASUREMENT AND EVALUATION

At the roadshows, conversations were held with 6,200 members of the public and more than 100,000 symptom cards were distributed during a seven-day period. The campaign secured 73 pieces of coverage in a range of print, broadcast and online media, with highlights including a news report on ITV Anglia.

RESULTS

An independent evaluation found that 38 per cent of respondents exposed to the campaign reported they had engaged in at least one positive action as a result, such as checking to see if they had any of the symptoms or going to see their GP.

In terms of symptoms awareness, unprompted recall of six out of seven of the main bowel cancer symptoms was higher among those exposed to the campaign. Awareness was also found to be higher of the symptoms of lung cancer and breast cancer.

SECOND OPINION - ALISON MACKENZIE, MD, REYNOLDS-MACKENZIE

Breast, bowel and lung cancer are all common in the over-fifties, so it made strategic sense to communicate to this group on all three conditions.

As patients and the general public are generally targeted with single cancer awareness campaigns, to reach a specific audience with educational messages about several cancers represented a significant comms challenge.

Grayling and Kindred's phased approach ensured that stakeholders were on board ahead of the campaign, while the Be Clear on Cancer theme created an effective umbrella platform and clear call to action. The tried and tested roadshow mechanism was highly effective, as it allowed for initial consultations on specific cancers to take place.

The campaign might have had greater impact and offered the opportunity for wider roll-out in the cash-strapped NHS if a digital destination for the Be Clear on Cancer materials had been developed.

An opportunity to leverage social media with the campaign video was also missed.

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