Patient stories help attract top-tier coverage to new research findings

Medical journal Brain revealed research findings of four paralyzed young men who saw groundbreaking progress in leg movement as a result of epidural electrical stimulation of the spinal cord.

Organization: Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation (Short Hills, New Jersey)
Agency: Coyne PR (Parsippany, New Jersey)
Duration: February-April
Budget: $35,000

Medical journal Brain revealed research findings of four paralyzed young men who saw groundbreaking progress in leg movement as a result of epidural electrical stimulation of the spinal cord.

Strategy
The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation and its AOR, Coyne PR, aimed to generate awareness for the study that supports the foundation’s mission to cure spinal cord injuries.

Partners of the study included the University of Louisville, National Institutes of Health, Pavlov Institute of Physiology, and University of California, Los Angeles.

Tactics
In advance of Brain’s April 8 issue, Coyne pitched top-tier outlets, providing them with b-roll footage about the research and lives of the four men.

Coyne aimed for widespread media coverage in the hope of reaching the almost 6 million people who live with paralysis. The agency provided media training for the patients and the foundation’s president and CEO Peter Wilderotter.

Results
Coverage included the front page of USA Today, as well as top outlets including the Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal, and internationally on BBC and in the Daily Mail.

ChristopherReeve.org saw more than double its average site visits on launch day of the report, as traffic jumped from 4,812 visits to 9,962, an increase of 107%. The University of Louisville estimated almost 500 enquiries within 10 days of the study being published.

Future
Rebecca Laming, senior director of marcomms at the foundation, says it plans to keep epidural stimulation in the media spotlight as well as "dive deeper into the stories of the patients." 

The foundation is running ads showing the power of epidural stimulation and aims to keep the topic trending. 

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