PRWeek Healthcare & Pharma Comms Awards winners: Best Proactive Healthcare/Pharma Comms during COVID-19

The winner in this category is Specsavers Open for Care by Beattie Communications and Tangerine for Specsavers.

Specsavers needed to communicate that it was open for business during lockdown for some services - with fewer marketing resources and an ever-changing news cycle.

Take me back to the Healthcare & Pharma Comms Awards winners page

The answer was the Open for Care programme. Specsavers created a 24/7 cross-functional content team, including PR and social agency support. The purpose was to weave together customer-driven stories with operational updates across PR, social and web content. 

Innovative new channels for direct consumer comms were fast-tracked; for example Ask The Expert, billed as a world-first Facebook customer group. It was manned by Specsavers experts to answer less urgent enquiries. More than 1,200 questions were asked in and feedback was 100 per cent positive.

Procedural changes included implementing Microsoft Teams across internal and multi-agency teams, centralising campaign tracking, and creating new routes to crowd-source user-generated content, information and stories from store partners and employees. An editorial board reviewed daily changes in customer search activity, social media, media stories and colleague submissions first thing each morning. Content ideas were signed off and developed in real time. Community management was also prioritised to answer customer and employee queries on social.

The resulting content linked to what customers were searching for. Employees shared stores and acted as brand ambassadors.

Web content was supported by media stories and videos created for social media, all with the ‘Open for Care’ strapline.

There were more than 800,000 views of Open for Care social content, with an average weekly reach of 2.6m, twice the pre-COVID level. Coverage increased 35 per cent from April onwards (the launch month), with 756 pieces of coverage.

Fifty per cent of non-customers indicated they were more likely to consider using Specsavers as a result of seeing content. Social sentiment was good: 45 per cent positive just eight per cent negative between March and October.

Judge's comment: 

"This was a nice example of agile comms during COVID-19 that integrated PR and SEO especially well.."

Highly commended: 

The Forgotten C by Macmillan Cancer Support

The campaign fought for the needs of people living with cancer when they were at the risk of being forgotten during the pandemic - and to urge the public to help Macmillan weather the financial storm. The integrated Forgotten C campaign included a series of news stories demonstrating the impact COVID-19 was having on cancer care and treatment, and on the physical and emotional wellbeing of people with cancer, generating over 2,200 pieces of coverage from April to July. A film for Macmillan’s first ever Emergency Fundraising Appeal featured 13 celebrity supporters and reached over 275,000 people across owned channels. Macmillan supporters were asked to email their health minister to raise further awareness and the charity led a group of nearly 50 healthcare charities to publish an open letter urging clear guidance for vulnerable people shielding. MacMillan secured commitments from Health Secretary Matt Hancock and further UK health ministers to create a cancer taskforce and a cancer-specific recovery plan to help get cancer care back on track. Willingness to support cancer charities grew eight per cent during the pandemic (since April), and by the end of June, its emergency fundraising appeal had received over £800,000.


LifeArc COVID-19 Funding Call & Funding Announcement by Four Communications for LifeArc

NHS X Rankin by Freuds Communications for NHS England

Seqirus - Staying Connected

SuperYou by Prescript Communications for Takeda UK & Ireland

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