At a glance: Cystic Fibrosis Trust relays positive message

Is this following Gordon Brown's personal statement last week?
Yes, the Cystic Fibrosis Trust (CFT) was the prime mover in putting out upbeat media messaging after the sad news that Gordon and Sarah Brown's youngest son Fraser had been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. Affecting just 7,500 children and adults in the UK, it is an inherited condition that clogs various organs, in particular the lungs, with thick mucus.

Did the CFT help with the Browns' announcement?
No. Its media relations activity was reactive, after The Sun called the CRT for comment before the story broke. IncrediBull Ideas, which handles PR for the CFT, put together a statement emphasising that prospects for children born with the condition are now more hopeful than ever - although average life expectancy remains just 31 years old.

So, were sufferers put up for interview?
Sufferers and carers were made available and the message from one woman on BBC Radio Five Live's breakfast show - who emphasised what a normal life she led, with marriage, mortgage, a job and so on - was typical. Rosie Barnes, CFT chief executive, and its chairman Jim Littlewood also appeared in a variety of radio, TV and press interviews. CFT patron David Bull, who is also founder of IncrediBull, was interviewed by Bloomberg
and the Daily Express.

Has there been much on the drugs that are available?
Coverage has tended not to mention the brands which, along with physiotherapy, are the main means by which sufferers either keep airways open or break down mucus. One of the best-known drugs, the mucus-thinning treatment Pulmozyme, is marketed by Roche and Genentech. Tonic Life Communications handles the account.

What comms plans does the CFT have in place in coming months?
It will use celebrity ambassadors, such as footballer Joe Cole, to raise awareness, and is set to continue a campaign to have all newborn babies tested for the disease - at present only a third of babies have the test. The CFT bases much of its media relations around calendar events. A European awareness day was held last month, before the Browns' announcement, while April each year sees Cystic Fibrosis Week, including an awards ceremony, in the UK.

For further information visit cftrust.org.uk

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