Children's hospital spreads holiday cheer

Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU and PadillaCRT ran the second iteration of a Holiday Cheer campaign in 2013 to engage stakeholders and raise awareness.

Client: Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU (Richmond, VA)
PadillaCRT (Norfolk, VA)
12 Days of Holiday Cheer
December 1 – December 31, 2013

Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR) and AOR PadillaCRT ran the second iteration of a Holiday Cheer campaign in 2013 to engage stakeholders and raise awareness.

“CHoR is relatively new – it was created in June 2010 when VCU Health System and Children's Hospital joined together,” explains VP of children's services and executive director Leslie Wyatt. “We wanted to engage internal and external audiences and continue building identity and awareness as a nationally recognized, full-service children's hospital.”

Videos, social media outreach, and media relations drove engagement.

A text-to-donate element was added this year, as was a partnership with Young House Love, a Richmond, VA-based DIY blog with a national following run by a husband and wife who have a young child. 

“The 2012 campaign was a shorter, more locally focused effort,” says Lisa Kersey, VP of PadillaCRT's health practice. “We started the 2013 campaign earlier and created a more robust, integrated strategy. Participation from key influencers such as the VCU basketball team and Young House Love helped drive broader awareness and traction."


The Young House Love bloggers volunteered time to re-do CHoR's family waiting area in a generally more warm and homey fashion. They also decorated the space for the holidays and wrote four posts about the project.

CHoR's Facebook audience was asked to write a six-word post (with the hashtag #spreadcheer) describing how they would spread cheer.  

A “Cheer” lip-dub video featuring CHoR patients, staff, and VCU basketball players launched December 13 on CHoR's blog and was shared on Facebook.

The VCU network, supporters, and partners shared the video with their social media audiences.

The team also pitched the “Cheer” video to local and national general consumer media and outlets covering parenting, healthcare, and sports.

Beginning December 1, daily posts on CHoR's blog featuring one video participant's six-word message about how they spread cheer teased the video release.

A before and after video of the family waiting area makeover was revealed December 16 on Young House Love's blog and posted on CHoR's blog and social media channels. This video was also pitched to home and design bloggers and media.

Audiences were encouraged to text-to-donate $10 to support the work of CHoR and the Children's Hospital Foundation through social media outreach; paid ads on Facebook and NPR; and flyers posted by VCU and local businesses.

The “Cheer” video got 95,848 views December 13-27. Views climbed to 100,486 as of January 22, 2014. A similar video for the 2012 campaign got 7,575 views over two weeks.

CHoR's Facebook likes increased 2000% during December compared to the average monthly increase. Young House Love's blog was the second highest external referrer (behind Google) to the Facebook page.

Twitter followers increased from 2,686 to 2,761 during December, up 200% over the average monthly increase.

Overall page views in December for CHoR's blog increased 299% over November 2013 and 210% over December 2012. 

Only $390 was raised via text-to-donate, but Wyatt and Kersey are happy with that given it was the first time trying the tactic.

Fifty-eight earned placements (the goal was 10) ran in outlets such as Richmond Times Dispatch, Huffington Post, USA Today, NBC Sports, Access Hollywood, and Apartment Therapy.

An 18-month launch campaign for a new children's pavilion will kick off this spring.

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