CAMPAIGNS: Rallying young stroke victims - Public Awareness

The annual European Stroke Conference is a meeting of stroke experts including neurologists, professionals involved in the management of strokes, and pharmaceutical companies.

The annual European Stroke Conference is a meeting of stroke

experts including neurologists, professionals involved in the management

of strokes, and pharmaceutical companies.

Ruder Finn was called in to raise the profile of the seventh annual

conference, which took place in Edinburgh from 27 to 30 May 1998.

Previous conferences had had no press facilities, and it was felt that

as a consequence many newsworthy stories had gone unreported.


To raise the profile of the conference in the media and among

professional audiences. To increase understanding of strokes and spark

debate about treatment and services.


In the build-up to the conference, Ruder Finn identified key conference

spokespeople and gave them media training. A media alert was sent to

more than 900 media organisations across Europe, the US and Japan.

Conference news stories were identified based on the papers to be

presented and news releases and press packs prepared.

In addition to the scientific and medical stories for the specialist

press, Ruder Finn wanted to identify a news story with real impact that

would generate coverage in the mainstream press. The story it chose was

the occurrence of strokes in younger people. Spokespeople, including

young survivors and stroke experts were primed for media interest. Two

tailored news releases - one for England and one for Scotland - were

targeted at key health and education correspondents in advance of the


A press office was set up at the conference, and journalists unable to

attend were faxed daily conference news. Daily press briefings were

organised with key conference speakers to promote news stories.

Ruder Finn says it is difficult to quantify how much of the budget was

spent on planning, but three to five per cent was spent on



Twenty-five journalists registered at the press office. The strokes in

younger people story broke on the first day of the conference attracting

wide-spread interest.

Broadcast coverage included interviews with young stroke survivors on

BBC Business Breakfast and Radio 1 Newsbeat. ITN and BBC News ran items

throughout the day. Sally Heath from the Stroke Association was

interviewed on the BBC’s One O’Clock News about the work of her

association and wider issues surrounding strokes. Local radio coverage

included Radio Sheffield, which extended the issue by looking at stroke

services in Sheffield.

Newspaper coverage included pieces in the Independent, the Daily Mail,

the Express, the Scotsman and the Herald. Trade press included German

daily medical publication Arzte Zeitung, the Lancet, Hospital Doctor and

the Nursing Times.


Ruder Finn successfully raised the profile of what had been a rather

low-key conference. The strokes in younger people story had a lot to do

with this.

’It really gripped people’s imagination, many of whom were unaware that

it is possible to have a stroke in your 20s and 30s,’ says Ruder Finn

account director, Pat Pearson.

Pearson was particularly satisfied that this story also led to wider

media debate about stroke services and treatment.

Media coverage also helped to enhance the reputation of the conference

among medical professionals.

’People at the conference were certainly talking about the media

coverage,’ says Pearson. He hopes that this enhanced reputation will be

reflected in attendance figures at next year’s conference.

Client: European Stroke Conference

PR Team: Ruder Finn

Campaign: European Stroke Conference

Timescale: Autumn 1997-May 1998

Budget: Undisclosed

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