Blood Service alerts public to shortage

The majority of the world’s population does not have access to safe blood, and the problem is particularly acute in developing countries. To draw attention to this health issue The National Blood Service held the second annual World Blood Donor Day on 14 June.

Campaign World Blood Donor Day 2005 
Client National Blood Service 
PR team In-house and Harrison Cowley
Timescale January-July 2005
Budget Undisclosed

Agency Harrison Cowley handled promotion alongside the service's in-house team.

To create a high-impact and memorable launch that could be mirrored across England and around the world. To meet a donor-retention strategy and engage blood recipients, donors, potential donors, the media and internal National Blood Service audiences in England. To support a global campaign around blood supply by the World Health Organisation.

Strategy and Plan
Harrison Cowley created the concept of 'celebration galleries' in eight cities across the country – including London, Birmingham and Manchester – in a bid to create a feelgood factor and source case studies for media activity.

The galleries featured the stories of blood recipients, complemented by photography of friends and family and endorsed with messages of thanks to blood donors.

Because the PR programme operated on four levels – international,
national, regional and internal – the case studies also enabled the team to create tailored press releases for regional and national media.

To encourage visitors to the galleries, promotions were set up with
local commercial radio stations. Working with markettiers4dc, the team also produced a B-roll for national broadcasters featuring campaign frontwoman Heather Mills McCartney, a National Blood Service spokesperson and a six-year-old who survived three open-heart operations with the help of donated blood. This was backed up by a B-roll for international media, outlining how Malawi has successfully moved from a remunerated to voluntary blood donation service.

Celebrities including Mills McCartney, Victoria Wood and ex-footballer John Fashanu were secured for local launch events.

Measurement and Evaluation
Coverage in the UK included more than 450 articles in publications such as The Sun, The Times, News of the World, Hello!, Best and Now.

On 14 June, Mills McCartney participated in a number of interviews for broadcasters, including Sky, the BBC and the armed forces' British Satellite News. Fashanu, meanwhile, appeared on GMTV and ITN news programmes.

World Blood Donor Day also generated news items on more than 200 radio stations, including BBC Radio One, Five Live and Capital Radio.

According to in-house evaluation, 98 per cent of coverage included details of the National Donor Helpline.

Data from the National Blood Service  shows that in the three months following the campaign, calls to its donor helpline rose by a third, while new registrations increased by 100 per cent and donor churn fell by 15 per cent.

'Most people will know somebody who needs blood at some point in their life,' says Laura Frewin, health editor of Best, which ran a story featuring a woman who received two blood transfusions to treat severe burns. 'The PR team gave us a good case study and we were able to include comment from our own GP and details of how readers could donate blood.'

Second Opinion
Edward Higgins, communications officer for the Blood Pressure Association, has worked on healthcare campaigns

World Blood Donor Day looks to have been a success. The inclusion of the child as a case study was perhaps an obvious choice, but children pluck at the heart strings and make you take notice.

Of particular interest was the use of 'celebration galleries', which appear to have been an excellent way of repackaging the good old media case study, while  directly engaging the public on-site. The question though is whether this was successfully mirrored internationally.

The use of celebrity spokespeople generated some great national TV coverage on the day, while the celebration galleries gave the campaign a more regional focus.

The campaign's success in getting the National Donor Helpline and website mentioned in 98 per cent of coverage was impressive and was no doubt the main reason behind the upswing in the numbers of new registrations and people contacting the donor helpline.
Indeed, the PR was so good at driving home the importance
of donating blood that it genuinely left me with a cosy feeling that donating blood really does save lives.

Overall I felt the campaign had an optimistic overtone, which is something people respond to.

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