CAMPAIGNS: Health PR - NBS aims to achieve a bloody coup

Client: National Blood Service

Client: National Blood Service

Campaign: Work together to save a life

PR Team: Citigate Westminster

Timescale: Mar - Sept 2000

Budget: part of retainer

’Work together to save a life’ is the first national campaign the

National Blood Service (NBS) has undertaken since it merged its

geographically zoned divisions into a single national organisation at

the end of last year. The service decided that the workplace was a good

place from which to recruit regular donors.


To recruit as many new or lapsed donors as possible by targeting people

in their workplace. To encourage employers to promote sessions near or

in the workplace, and to allow staff time off to attend sessions.

Strategy and Plan

’Work together to save a life’ specifically targets employers and people

in the workplace. The key message was to communicate how and where

employees could give blood, as well as what the NBS uses its supply


Citigate brokered partnerships with the Trade Union Council and the

Confederation of British Industry on behalf of the NBS. Links were

established to reach their respective memberships - unions and managers.

The TUC was extremely active, including information on the campaign in

its regular bulletins, distributing TUC branded leaflets supplied by the

NBS, and dispensing specially produced TUC ’credit cards’, which promote

the NBS call centre number, and ask the card holder to ’invite your mate

for a pint’.

The CBI featured the NBS in the April issue of its magazine, circulated

to over 30,000 members, with a free full-page colour advertisement. Both

Digby Jones, director general of the CBI, and John Monks, TUC general

secretary, posed for a photocall and gave interviews for press and

broadcast media.

An omnibus survey investigated which professions were most likely to

give blood. It revealed that farmers, fishermen and people in the

advertising and marketing industries were least likely to become donors.

Answers also revealed information that could aid the blood service’s

recruitment strategy - such as where and when people preferred to give

blood. The results of the survey were sold in to the national media.

Finally, Citigate released a list of the top 20 companies that gave

blood, and encouraged the listed companies to include this information

in their newsletters, trade press, and, in several instances,

participate in regional press calls.

The campaign’s exposure was increased by Pennington Scott Productions

which negotiated a free five day advertising campaign on Virgin Radio,

and included the launch of the campaign in its syndicated programme,

Health Matters.

Measurement and Evaluation

Media coverage of the campaign was massive. National and regional press

and broadcast media all ran news stories on the campaign, as well as the

results of the survey. The fact that most people who work do not have

time to give blood was constantly communicated, therefore stressing the

need for employers to promote blood-giving sessions in work hours.

Various trade press also ran news of the campaign.

No formal evaluation of the campaign has been conducted yet, as it is

still ongoing. So far there has been no measured increase of donors in

response to the campaign. However, various companies have enquired as to

how they can introduce a donor scheme.


The National Blood Service is continuing to monitor response to evaluate

pick-up from the media. The call centre has received an increase of

’tens of thousands’ on its help-line as a result of the campaign.

Body Shop founder Anita Roddick recently put her name to a celebrity

letter to appear in the regional press (letters and business pages)

calling for support of the blood service, and media activity continues

on a regional basis.

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