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
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
’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