CAMPAIGNS: Launch of pioneering hip surgery technique - Healthcare PR

Client: Zimmer Orthopaedic Devices PR team: Kaizo incorporating Beer Davies Time scale: May-October 2003 Budget: £75,000

Back in May, Zimmer Orthopaedic Devices wanted to launch its 2-Incision procedure in the UK. This new form of surgery involves smaller incisions and promises patients a shorter and less painful rehabilitation period than standard hip-replacement operations.

Objectives

To position Zimmer as market leader in Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) through a specific focus on the 2-Incision procedure. To secure the interest and trust of key public health opinion formers, such as the Department of Health and the British Orthopaedic Association. To secure 100 pieces of positive media coverage that would encourage orthopaedic surgeons to sign up for training in the procedure.

Strategy and Plan

Kaizo first ensured the orthopaedic surgical community was aware of the 2-Incision procedure, then selected surgeons as spokespeople who were kept consistently on-message.

The PR team then targeted the specialist medical press, such as Hospital Doctor and Journal of One-Day Surgery, to ensure that GPs, theatre staff and nurses were the first to be informed about the details of 2-Incision surgery.

Winning the respect and co-operation of the medical profession was key to increasing interest in training in the new technique, so details were put together of the first successful completion of a 2-Incision procedure, by surgeon Howard Ware. Kaizo then had a week to plan the launch to the mainstream press, with briefings to national papers tailored to the specific readership.

Measurement and Evaluation

In addition to the specialist medical press, the story was covered by most national newspapers, and it received a wealth of regional print coverage, including the South Wales Argus, Cambridge Evening News and the Leicester Mercury. GMTV, BBC News at Ten O'Clock and BBC Radio 4's Today programme all covered the launch.

Results

When the campaign began in May, only two surgeons were signing up for each six-week training cycle. Since October, Zimmer has received more requests from surgeons wanting to train in the new procedure, and has had to extend its resources to cater for the 12 surgeons who signed up in December 2003.

The Prime Minister requested a briefing on the technique from special healthcare adviser Simon Stevens to discuss the potential implications of shorter hospital stays on waiting lists.

Daily Mail reporter Angela Brooks found the Kaizo team an informative contact point. 'They were slick, professional, straightforward and honest.

We saw this as a brilliant way to showcase the breaking news of the successful completion of the procedure,' she said.

Media coverage far exceeded expectations, with 636 pieces of on-message coverage generated across the UK, the US, New Zealand and Asia.

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