Colorectal Cancer Alliance selects Ketchum as PR AOR

KayAnn Schoeneman, one of the account leads at Ketchum, is a survivor of the disease.


WASHINGTON: The Colorectal Cancer Alliance has named Ketchum as its PR AOR. 

The nonprofit, formerly called the Colon Cancer Alliance, supports patients, families, caregivers, and survivors, raises awareness, and helps to fund research into colorectal cancer. According to an agency statement, Ketchum began working for the alliance in early November.

Colorectal Cancer Alliance CEO Michael Sapienza said the organization previously worked with Washington, DC-based branding and marketing agency Grafik during a recent rebranding effort and that agency conducted a small amount of PR. But changes at the alliance, he said, meant the group needed more. Grafik is continuing to work with the alliance on creative.

"We had a director of marketing and comms and we’re moving to having a VP of marketing and comms," Sapienza said about why the alliance decided to hire a PR AOR. "And we’re also looking to hire some more internal PR support. But also we want more of a robust profile in National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month [in March] and felt we needed some additional help."

Sapienza said the Alliance issued the RFP in October and two other agencies, along with Ketchum, pitched for the work. He would not disclose the names of the other firms or the contract’s dollar figure.

Ketchum’s contract with the alliance expires in April, shortly after it supports the organization’s efforts during National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. However, Sapienza said that he expects the Colorectal Cancer Alliance to continue working with the agency. 

"I can see us extending the contract longer," he said. "I think this will be a long relationship."

The Ketchum leads for the account are KayAnn Schoeneman, SVP and marketplace lead in Washington, DC, and Rebekah Yeager, VP and group manager for the public sector. Schoeneman said four others will work on the account but will be augmented by others as needed.

Sapienza said he chose Ketchum, in part, because he felt the agency and Schoeneman understood the disease and the organization. According to a statement about the AOR win, Schoeneman is a survivor of stage 3 colorectal cancer.

In addition to addressing the challenge of discussing a disease that affects the lower end of the digestive system, Sapienza said he is asking Ketchum for help with educating people on how colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable diseases.

According to the alliance’s website, the chances of surviving the cancer increase dramatically the earlier it is discovered. When it’s found at the local stage, the five-year survival rate is 90%, but when it has spread to distant parts of the body, it’s only 14%.

"My friends and colleagues are sick of seeing friends die and colleagues die at a much more alarming rate than breast, cervical, and other cancers," Sapienza said. 

According to the alliance’s website, colorectal cancer is "the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined in the United States."

Sapienza said a large part of the education effort will be focused on using the stories of people who did and did not survive colorectal cancer.

"I do think the personal stories will be huge part of what we do," he said.

"It will be using the full suite of paid, earned, social, and [Colorectal Cancer Alliance’s] owned channels as well," said Schoeneman about the channels the agency will employ in its campaign. "We’ll be leaning heavily on those and then refining tactics as we go."

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