Medco provides seniors solutions

To raise its profile in the b-to-c space, Medco, a prescription drug benefits and pharmacy care company, and long-time agency Coyne PR developed "Medco's Prescription for a Healthy Nest Egg," an effort to help seniors manage drug cost.

To raise its profile in the b-to-c space, Medco, a prescription drug benefits and pharmacy care company, and long-time agency Coyne PR developed "Medco's Prescription for a Healthy Nest Egg," an effort to help seniors manage drug cost.

"We're b-to-b, mostly behind the scenes, and trying to build consumer brand presence," says Jennifer Luddy, Medco's senior public affairs manager. "We saw it as an opportunity to do something good for [senior citizens], raise our profile, and build trust.

We're getting into a healthcare environment where... they may have the choice to choose Medco above another company."

Strategy
"[There was] a lot of discussion [in mainstream media] on seniors and fixed income - and nest eggs specifically - that didn't include prescription drug costs," says Kevin Lamb, VP of Coyne. "No one was getting into how medication costs affected fixed income."

The companies decided to do a national survey of seniors about prescription medication cost and planning to drive media relations. Also, the PR team decided to create free guide booklets with ways to save money on prescriptions.

"The media strategy was to find the issue with the survey and provide a tangible value add," Lamb says. "The guide gave media a value add they could direct consumers to. When it comes to seniors... you've got to become a trusted advisor by giving useful information they can apply."

Tactics
The survey found that 55% of retirees overlooked healthcare and prescription drug expenses when planning for retirement; spent $1 of every $10 on medications; and many were unaware of ways to stretch medication dollars or didn't use saving tools.

To enhance credibility and extend reach, Medco partnered with the National Consumers League (NCL), and its new executive director served as spokesperson to convey study findings.

The guide, titled "Consumer's Guide to a Healthy Nest Egg," was available to seniors online at Medco's Medicare Web site, the NCL's site, via mail, and in adult and retirement communities.

Media pitches focused on the survey results, the NCL partnership, and the guide.

"Beyond media, [we] offered it free to communities that have a high senior population and to key strategic Medco markets," Lamb says. "It was a direct engagement opportunity for the brand [and added] value beyond media."

Luddy adds that senior communities provide "a very captive audience," and she thought "it was brilliant."

Results
More than 15,000 guides were distributed, and the campaign generated 353 media placements (nearly 60 million impressions). Outlets included the Associated Press, Dow Jones' Kiplinger's Retirement Report, and MSNBC.

Luddy says Medco measured success through media coverage and Web hits, adding that the guide was downloaded 12,529 times, which represented 10% of total site visits in November and December of last year.

"It's been challenging to find a way to talk directly to consumers in an impactful way," Luddy says. "This was a huge win for us."

Future
Medco will continue working with Coyne. Luddy says the team is looking to move into a second phase, exploring ways in which to grow the concept and the campaign.

PR team: Medco Health Solutions (Franklin Lakes, NJ), Coyne Public Relations (Parsippany, NJ)

Campaign: Medco's Prescription for a Healthy Nest Egg

Duration: October-December 2007

Budget: $200,000

PRWeek's view

The brilliance of this campaign is that it strategically provided multiple solutions with simple, straightforward tactics.

Breaking into b-to-c is never easy. Media are critical of the sector, and this team was astute in finding an unfilled slot in existing coverage and inserting its story in a positive light.

Medco understands that healthcare is about helping people, and correctly used its genuine commitment to customers to help advance its business. Lamb thinks the effort could've fallen short had it provided only tips rather than a full-blown guide. This is a good point - the guide simultaneously supported pitches, served the audience across multiple channels, and enhanced Medco's credibility.

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