Monday 16th April: Parkinson's Awareness Week

This year's Parkinson's Awareness Week saw the launch of the biggest in-depth research study tracking people with the neurological condition ever mounted anywhere in the world today. This significant research programme would seek to further unlock secrets about Parkinson's to boost the chance of finding a cure and markettiers4dc were entrusted with delivering an on air broadcast campaign to maximise coverage for the charity.

The study put out an urgent call for 3,000 volunteers  – both people diagnosed with Parkinson’s within the last three years and those aged under 50 at the time of diagnosis, and their brothers and sisters – to take part in the ground-breaking ‘Tracking Parkinson’s’ clinical study. This was a significant news story that would hopefully result in significant strides being made towards finding a cure.

markettiers4dc worked with Parkinson’s UK to set up over 40 major TV and radio interviews for the three central spokespeople –  the Chief Executive of Parkinson’s UK, the lead of the Tracking Parkinson’s study and the Director of Research and Innovation at the charity.

The campaign delivery was the result of a comprehensive media relations exercise which resulted in markettiers4dc working closely with the team at Parkinson’s UK to set up a series of back to back interviews with stations on the national and regional BBC and commercial network. An important factor in the success of the activity was access to regional case studies who were able to talk about their own experiences living with Parkinson’s to bring the local angle to life.

We secured national and regional live interviews with the key spokespeople on BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC London, BBC Devon, BBC Hereford & Worcestershire, BBC Shropshire, BBC Merseyside and Sky News Radio to name but a few. TV interviews were also set up with BBC Breakfast, BBC Spotlight and ITV Central, with the Chief Executive also delivering an interview on BBC Radio 4’s The Today Programme.

In total there were over 180 pieces of broadcast coverage all of which were focused on raising awareness of Parkinson’s and encouraging those who are eligible to take part in the study.

To add further proof to the success of the campaign, on the day of launch, the website experienced the highest number of visits ever – more than 12,000 – rising to 54,000 throughout the week. The website received 11,500 more visits than in the past two Awareness Weeks put together, with 66% of those coming to the site visiting for the first time. Social media engagement was high. A story about the research running on BBC News Online was shared over 650 times through social media. During this period the charity received over 250 new Facebook likes, 233 new Twitter followers, 342 Twibbons were added and 235 stories shared via the Find a Cure microsite.

By 10:30am on the day after launch, the helpline had received more calls than during the entire of Parkinson’s Awareness Week 2011 – more than 403 calls. In just three days, 884 calls had been received – many of whom were new callers. The charity also sent out more than 43,000 pieces of literature, including information sheets, support and advice materials for people affected by Parkinson’s, families and carers.

Nevertheless, the real success of the launch was in the number of volunteers enlisted. In the six weeks since the campaign launch, over half of the volunteers needed for the next five years had already been successfully recruited into the study – taking Parkinson’s UK one giant step closer in their mission to find a cure for the condition.

Head Of Media and Marketing at Parkinson’s UK said:

“..I congratulate everyone in the whole team (Parkinson's UK and markettiers4dc) on working so smoothly and so passionately on this.. Please pass thanks and congratulations to all your team who worked on this –