SAN BRUNO, CA: Cord Blood Registry has hired Zeno Group as its first PR AOR.
The firm's primary goal will be to raise awareness about how saving a child's umbilical cord blood after birth can benefit that person's health later in life.
This type of blood remains in the vessels of the placenta and the portion of the umbilical cord still attached to a child after birth. It contains cells that some research says can help a child battle conditions like leukemia, lymphoma, and other diseases years later.
If a parent decides to save this biological material, he or she reaches out to private cord blood banks like Cord, which charges fees to hold it until adulthood. The more-than-15-year-old organization claims to be the world's largest stem-cell bank, holding cord blood and tissue for more than 400,000 children.
Zeno has a one-year contract. It will come up with integrated campaigns that convey both the importance of saving cord blood and raising the profile of the organization, according to Tia Newcomer, VP of marketing at the organization. She declined to disclose a budget.
The idea to hire a PR firm after a review came from Newcomer, who joined Cord in March after nearly 10 years in various positions at Hewlett-Packard. Her final role at the technology company was VP of worldwide marketing.
“We were trying to do everything in-house with two or three people, and it wasn't working,” Newcomer said. “Since I'd been at a larger company, I knew the benefit of what a PR firm could offer.”
HP had worked with Zeno sister firm Edelman. However, Zeno's proposal and in-person interview won her over, she said. Firms including MSLGroup and Ogilvy Public Relations were also in contention for Cord's PR contract.
“[Zeno was] the only agency that brought to the table a high-level social media practitioner and really showed how they would include it in their outreach,” she said. “The other firms just talked about it.”
Newcomer also liked that Zeno brought in the smallest team during the pitch process, conveying to Cord that as a small company, it would not be lost in the shuffle among larger clients.
Zeno sister agency Edelman does PR for one of CBR's biggest competitors, ViaCord. Newcomer said Zeno disclosed this upfront and noted that the operating structure of Zeno alleviated concerns of a potential conflict.
Ame Wadler, MD of health and strategic planning at Zeno, said the firm is committed to CBR's mission of raising awareness about core blood and its benefits.
“Most people don't have any idea or understanding of the value new blood stem cells have,” she said.