Campaign: Voluntary sector - Macmillan wins minister backing for extra cash

Campaign: A Better Deal

Clients: Macmillan Cancer Relief

PR team: In-house

Timescale: Ongoing from November 2004

Budget: Approximately £300,000

Although the Government has increased its investment in primary cancer treatment, patients still face difficulty accessing benefits. Macmillan Cancer Relief believed it was time for a campaign to tackle the financial hardship of patients. Objectives

To generate publicity and draw the Government's attention to financial difficulties of patients. To highlight benefits such as disability allowance.

To drive traffic to the campaign website and hotline.

Strategy and Plan

Planning for the campaign began in early 2003, with a survey of around 1,000 cancer patients finding that three quarters suffered financial difficulties.

The team decided on a media campaign to raise awareness of financial hardship and a public affairs drive to encourage a change in the law to simplify access to benefits.

Macmillan published research in June 2004 revealing that over a six-month period, more than £126m in disability allowance remained unclaimed by terminal cancer patients.

The central press office targeted case studies at health, social affairs and features journalists on national titles, while Macmillan's regional branches in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland handled regional and local media.

The parliamentary team sent the research to every Westminster, Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly member, and lobbied the Department for Work and Pensions and Department of Health for a change in benefits law.

The team organised receptions at Westminster and the Scottish Parliament, and a photocall at the Welsh Assembly. In the run-up to these events, the team met journalists face-to-face. Broadsheets were then offered financial and legal angles, while tabloids were given information about where patients could get advice.

National spokespeople, including Macmillan chief executive Peter Cardy, were made available to give interviews.

Around 66 MPs and peers attended the House of Commons reception. Within days, Labour MP for Norwich North and chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on cancer, Ian Gibson, tabled an Early Day Motion supporting Macmillan's call for a change in the law on benefits.

Measurement and Evaluation

National and regional media coverage for the main campaign in November, analysed by cuttings agency Romeike, was extensive.

Nationally, The Times, The Daily Telegraph and Daily Express, BBC1, BBC2, Radio 4 and Radio Five Live covered the campaign. It garnered 150 pieces in regional newspapers, 70 mentions on regional radio and ten items on regional TV.

The websites of national newspapers, the BBC, Yahoo! and MSN covered the story 80 times.


Since November, 7,000 people have called Macmillan's helpline and 8,000 have logged on to its website. Although the PR campaign was supported by billboard and newspaper advertising, the majority of responses have been traced to the PR campaign.

To date, 124 MPs have backed a change in the benefits law.

Times health editor Nigel Hawkes says: 'You seldom see the financial implications of cancer examined, so obviously the campaign was very worthwhile.'

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