CALABASAS HILLS, CA: For the first time since its founding in 1985, the nonprofit ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) Association has launched a rebranding effort to emphasize its dedication to the fight against Lou Gehrig's Disease.
Gary Leo, the organization's president and CEO, said the association launched a study to determine what percentage of people were familiar with ALS and whether its connection to Lou Gehrig - a 1930's New York Yankees hero destroyed by the disease - was still relevant today.
"What we found is that three-fold more [respondents] recognized Lou Gehrig than ALS alone," Leo said.
The association made a "conscious effort," he said, to continue to link Gehrig's name to the disease, in its new logo and mission statement, and in its rebranded theme line, "Fighting Lou Gehrig's Disease."
Components, developed with Minneapolis-based advertising and marketing firm Campbell Mithun, include a multi-faceted awareness campaign, new logo and graphics, and revised mission statement. Updated messaging will be incorporated both on the national level and by each of the Calabasas Hills, CA-based association's 41 US chapters. It is handling all PR in house.
Outreach will address "all kinds of needs" across multiple constituencies, Leo said. It will target family and caregivers through newsletters, the annual Walk to D'Feet ALS national fundraiser, and celebrity endorsements, among other initiatives. Government advocacy work will focus on veterans' assistance and clinical research. The association also redesigned its Web site, which is especially intended to help patients suffering from the fatal neurodegenerative disease.
A key factor in the association's PR efforts includes outreach to the scientific community, Leo said. To that end, the organization is placing a renewed emphasis on promoting its work via TV appearances, public speaking engagements, and conferences, he said - events which provide the association with "direct, face-to-face opportunities to meet with medical directors and professional staff."
The ALS Association is also reaching out to general-practice neurologists, Leo said, through trade journals and industry publications.
According to the organization's research, "we found general neurologists didn't know where to send [ALS] patients for help," Leo explained.
Internally, Leo said, the organization has developed a "very rich" Intranet, which is updated daily, meant to assist chapter executive directors and presidents across the country.
"It's a big, big element of our [communications] program," Leo said.