Canadian Liver Foundation
Canadian Liver Foundation| Public Relations| Health Team| 2015, 2016
Canadians born between 1945 and 1975 should talk with their doctors about testing for hepatitis C.
The vision of Canadian Liver Foundation (CLF) is a world without liver disease – including hepatitis C, a curable but silent and progressive disease that can lead to liver scarring, cancer and ultimately death. But Canadians born between 1945 and 1975 are largely unaware of their increased risk for the disease, which is five times that of other age groups.
In 2016, Environics partnered with the CLF to educate those at risk and motivate them to get tested, before irreparable damage was done.
Where did we start?
The Canadian Liver Foundation (CLF) team are an engaged and passionate bunch. We worked hand-in-hand with them to develop an integrated communications plan that would drive much-needed awareness and meaningful action around a stigmatized and little-known disease.
Two years prior to our partnership, the CLF conducted a survey which found that only 25% of individuals in this birth cohort have been tested for hepatitis C. At that time, they also developed a public service announcement to educate this age group and drive to a risk assessment questionnaire that would help get the right people into their doctor’s offices asking for testing.
This new initiative was the perfect opportunity to leverage existing materials like the PSA and risk assessment tool. It was also the right time to do another pulse check, and determine if the testing statistic has changed, and learn how many in this group are even aware of their increased risk for hepatitis C.
What opportunities did we identify?
We started with information gathering and conducted an omnibus survey amongst Canadians born between 1945 and 1975, with questions that aimed to reveal insights that weren’t only newsworthy – but also valuable to the CLF from a benchmarking perspective.
In analyzing the poll results, we learned that:
- there had been virtually no change in testing levels amongst this group, and;
- the majority (80%) of those born between 1945-1975 are unaware of their increased risk for hepatitis C.
The greatest opportunity was to harness these powerful findings in an integrated campaign, and drive members of this high-risk group to the CLF’s online hepatitis risk assessment tool. This questionnaire resource was already developed by the CLF, available online, and became one of our core calls to action, in addition to encouraging members of this age group to ask their doctor about getting a free hepatitis C blood test.
What was the solution?
Our integrated campaign consisted of three core elements: earned media relations, a media partnership and a Facebook boosting program, all leveraging existing CLF content and materials where possible.
From an earned perspective, we conducted media outreach in three markets across Canada, featuring hepatitis C experts and the stories of local hepatitis C patients who were cured after getting tested and treated. We launched our campaign with a press release in advance of World Hepatitis Day, which gave our story an additional timely hook.
We developed a partnership with Zoomer Media for a digital campaign, which helped us to reach our target demographic directly through sponsored content on everythingzoomer.com (including an article and banner ads), posts on Zoomer’s social media properties, and e-blasts and e-newsletters delivered directly to Zoomer subscribers who are in our target demographic. All content included direct links to the CLF website and risk assessment tool.
We also used Facebook to target our audience in a cost-effective way, driving traffic to the CLF risk assessment tool. We selected several compelling media articles resulting from our earned outreach, as well as some existing CLF content, including the PSA video, and promoted them for a six-week time period.
The PSA also ran on television networks across Canada during our campaign, building additional surround sound for the issue.
How did we do?
This multifaceted program has engaged our target audience in a way not seen before by the CLF.
We secured over 25 million media impressions from 85 news stories. Our messaging and calls to action were delivered through outlets including The Ottawa Citizen, CTV Toronto, CJAD Montreal, 680 News, Global News BC, and more.
Zoomer readers were reached over 1 million times through our sponsored campaign. Our Facebook program generated 417,000 views of the PSA and over 17,000 link clicks to news content or the CLF risk assessment tool.
But the truly impressive result? Our combined activities drove an astounding amount of traffic to the CLF’s website and risk assessment tool – two months after our campaign, there was a thirteen thousand per cent increase in web traffic, compared to the month prior to our campaign launch.
To add to this strong metric, the total risk assessment questionnaire submissions increased dramatically during our campaign. In a one-month time period, the number of submissions more than doubled the number submitted during the entire previous year.
Ultimately, our hope is that more Canadians at high risk are tested, diagnosed, and are now on the path to a cure. As the saying goes, knowledge is power!