The Patients Association

This campaign was one of markettiers4dcs most spectacularly successful ever. The massive national broadcast coverage directly led to us receiving calls from 5 national newspapers on the morning of story day. As a result hits on the Rosemont website increased by 2000%, the new Guidelines were downloaded at least 9,000 times and for Rosemont, November 2006 was a record month for sales of their liquid medication.

The key messages we needed to deliver for this campaign were, quite literally, a matter of life and death, so we designed a strategy that allowed for the fast, efficient and very precise dissemination of messaging.

The campaign hinged on the release of new healthcare guidelines issued to medical professionals concerning the questioning of patients about their ability to swallow pills. Research revealed that as many as 60% of older people have difficulty swallowing tablets and yet physicians fail to take this into consideration when prescribing medication. As a result patients and carers are crushing pills or opening capsules in order to make them easier to swallow but this can be dangerous and even fatal. Many are unaware of the risks or that there may be a liquid alternative to the tablets they have been prescribed.

To turn this hard-hitting story into hard hitting coverage, we offered national TV and radio news the combination of Dr David Wright, who had led the team developing the new guidelines, and a case study, Sarah Fairclough, whose grandmother had died of a massive heart attack after Sarah had crushed her heart medication just as her nurses had. It was a courageous decision by Sarah to speak out publicly and help prevent others from feeling the sadness and guilt that she has had to cope with. Meanwhile so we could simultaneously maximise regional radio coverage, we offered stations Rob Hicks, the leading media doctor.

GMTV and BBC Breakfast each covered the story at least 9 times. Both had Sarah Fairclough live in their studios with their own TV doctors who fully endorsed the issue, and both programmes also featured full packages including Dr Wright and Sarah at home.  The same BBC package then ran on the BBC1 One O’clock News, Channel 4 ran their interview with Sarah and Channel 5 also filmed at Sarah’s home and ran the story on all three of their news programmes. The total TV audience alone was 23+ million.

The BBC News’ Health Unit interviewed Dr Wright for a package that ran right across the news on Radio 2, 4 and 5. He did a separate interview with Radio 5 as did Sarah. In all, the story was covered by at least 77 radio stations with a combined weekly reach of over 21 million. Other key interviews were with IRN, LBC, BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio Wales and Heart. Furthermore, we offered Dr Wright to BBC radio’s GNS regional news service which yielded several more live and as live interviews into BBC local radio drivetime programmes.