Heart Foundation creates regional PR posts

The British Heart Foundation has created its first regional PR network as part of a series of changes to its communications function announced this week.

As well as the newly created team of dedicated PROs in nine areas, the changes also include a fresh strategy to reposition the charity as a more ‘lifestyle’-focused body.

According to head of comms David Barker, research by the charity shows that too many people view it as an ‘academic, medical’ charity.

He said: ‘We want to get away from that image and to be more about lifestyle.’ This shift comes as medical improvements mean that more people than ever are living with heart problems.

This focus on lifestyle issues is something the charity has already attempted this year, if on a smaller scale. In February it promoted a report revealing that heart disease is the biggest killer of women in the UK (PRWeek, 14 February). More PR work on similar themes is planned for the end of the year.

Barker said it is hoped the nine additional PROs, who are to play a key role bringing this new emphasis to a local audience, will be in post by October.

The nine regions covered are Scotland, Wales and, in England, the South West, South East, the Home Counties and East Anglia, West Midlands, Merseyside and north Wales, northern England and an area covering Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

The charity has also carried out a number of changes on the fundraising side, ‘to fit into the increasingly competitive market’, according to Barker.

Director of fundraising Aneesha Moreira has now completed a review of fundraising strategy, dividing it into four key target areas. These comprise boosting corporate link-ups and donations, its core donor base of individuals, national events and volunteering.

Last month, Neil and Christine Hamilton helped launch the charity’s Wear Red Campaign, which was a fundraiser for children with heart defects.

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