How one foundation is educating people about kidney health

The challenge for the National Kidney Foundation's marcomms team was to use substantive and creative ways to bring kidney disease out of the shadows.

Around 26 million American adults have some sort of kidney disease — yet most of them are unaware of it.

The challenge for the National Kidney Foundation’s marcomms team was to use substantive and creative ways to bring kidney disease out of the shadows when it comes to public awareness, compassion, and donated dollars.

With this in mind, the foundation repositioned itself as an activist organization, changing its narrative to emphasize emotion.

In every communication, the organization reinforces its position as the country’s largest, most comprehensive patient-centric organization dedicated to the awareness, prevention, and treatment of kidney disease.

In the past year, the foundation produced media campaigns aimed at making kidney health part of the public consciousness. Media relations in 2017 has already reached a collective audience of 200 million. Most impactful has been Heart Your Kidneys, a new public awareness campaign lifting kidneys to the status of better understood vital organs.

The campaign launched on World Kidney Day in March at SXSW. WPP firms Berlin Cameron, Y&R, and Cohn & Wolfe worked pro bono with the foundation to develop it and bolster outreach efforts and results.

The foundation even went Hollywood in April, which is National Donate Life Month. Warner Bros. Pictures donated a PSA shown on 6,000 screens nationwide with the movie Going in Style.

The PSA reached 20 million moviegoers, which represents a great starting point in raising awareness. 

Dolores Machuca-Ruiz is SVP of marketing and communications at the National Kidney Foundation

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