UK Transplant PR pitch to boost donor numbers

UK Transplant, the organisation responsible for the NHS organ donor register, is on the hunt for external PR support as it gears up to launch two campaigns to raise its profile and increase organ donations.

The move comes just days after MPs rejected an ‘opt-out’ proposal to make organ donation automatic unless previous objections are registered.

The campaigns are a PR-led initiative to persuade donor card carriers to sign up to the organ donor register, called ‘Convert the Card’, and the promotion of the organisation’s tenth anniversary celebrations, which will run for 12 months from October 2004.

Seven agencies are pitching to manage the campaigns, believed to be worth a total of £100,000. A shortlist is currently being compiled, with a decision expected at the end of next week.

UK Transplant, which does not currently use a PR agency, is particularly keen to achieve high-profile national coverage of its anniversary events and attract local support from charities and hospitals.

It wants the successful agency to use its anniversary to raise awareness about how members of the public can become organ donors and to encourage organ donors to talk to family and friends about their decision.

It says many card carriers are not currently on the register and hopes its campaign will change this.

‘According to our latest survey, 90 per cent of people in the UK support organ donation in principle but only 18 per cent are actually on the register,’ said UK Transplant marketing and campaigns manager Angie Burton, who will direct the winning agency’s work on both campaigns.

‘There’s a lot of good will out there – it’s just that a lot of people haven’t got round to doing anything about it.We want to use PR to reach out to that audience,’ she added.

With only 11.4 million people currently on the organ donor register, the organisation is eager to find new ways to increase organ donation in order to meet its 2010 target of 16 million.

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