104logoPRSA Colorado is highlighting case studies from the recent Gold Pick Awards. 104 West Partners won a Gold Pick in the category of Media Relations – Association/Nonprofit Organization.

Summary of the Situation:
March of DimesThe March of Dimes (MOD) is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. Its mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality through awareness, volunteerism, research and advocacy.

In November 2008 (Prematurity Awareness Month), the MOD sought to mobilize volunteers and parents across the country by drawing attention to the seriousness of premature birth. On November 12 (Prematurity Awareness Day), the MOD planned to issue its first Premature Birth Report Card (PBRC) grading each state’s rate of preterm birth. The PBRC also served as a call to action asking for supporters to sign a Petition for Preemies which would drive additional legislative action.

Based on 104 West’s in-depth research of medical white papers, infant health research papers, perinatal statistics, past media articles on prematurity and first-hand conversations with preemie parents, we learned we had to convey that preterm birth is a common, serious and costly health problem that affects more than 530,000 American babies each year. One in eight babies in Colorado are born too soon and it is the leading cause of death among America’s newborns.

Strategy and Tactics:

jordan-067104 West devised an objectives-driven media strategy to localize the news with a goal to reach a wide range of people who have either been directly affected, had a friend or family member touched by prematurity, or were thinking of having a baby. To raise the broadest awareness of the seriousness of prematurity by publicizing the PBRC, we focused on major media hubs including Denver, Colorado Springs and Grand Junction based on viewership and local MOD resources.

To maximize interest from the media, we quickly went to work customizing the information provided by the MOD national chapter in media pitches to increase its appeal to the local media. Using local statics and fast facts, we made sure the local media understood the significance of the news here locally.

In addition to pitching hard news stories to shed light on the devastating facts associated with preterm birth, we aimed to visually capture prospective new supporters with images and real-life stories of heartbreak and survival from Colorado families that have been impacted by prematurity. To accommodate as many opportunities as possible, we also offered ties into a satellite radio and media tour featuring national MOD spokespeople.

We mobilized and prepared a team of local Colorado-based spokespeople with FAQs and internal messaging documents, and ensured they could cover different aspects of the news including the PBRC, medical reasons behind prematurity and what can be done to help reduce the rate of preterm birth. We also compiled an electronic media kit complete with a press release, PBRC, technical notes, a state map of grades, background on MOD, images and B-roll.

•    Garnered a total of 17 broadcast segments across every major TV station in Denver (KWGN, KCNC, KMGH, KUSA, KTVD, KDVR), KKTV in Colo. and KKCO in Grand Junction (exceeded goal by 240%); included six on-camera interviews (exceeded goal by 250%)
•    Secured four print articles in top Colorado newspapers (exceeded goal by 33%)
•    Secured two radio spots (exceeded goal by 100%)
•    Secured 10 online stories (exceeded goal by 43%)
•    Placed 88 key messages in all media placements, averaging 3 per placement (exceeding the program goal)
•    Secured 2,840,117 media impressions in Colorado (exceeded goal by 184%)
•    Additional results included: 89% increase in website traffic in November; 15% increase in donations collected during a late November MOD event; achieved the second highest media results among 51 nationwide MOD chapters; collected 1,510 signatures (the most of any Rocky Mountain State) on the Petition for Preemies

Kathryn Marshall, 104 West Partners
Kathryn Marshall is a partner and chief operating officer for 104 West Partners, a strategic communications firm.

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2 Responses to Tiny Survivors: Colorado’s Fight Against Infant Prematurity

  1. Glad to see we’re fighting for a good cause.

  2. FansCoolers says:

    Jul07 I’m a mother of 2, with atoehnr on the way. Both my kids threatened to come early. With our first, we were lucky in that he decided to keep on baking, and it was just a scare. With my second, though, my water broke at 32 weeks and she was born 12 hours later. She was in the NICU for 3 weeks. Luckily, we lived just down the street, and they let me room in at the hospital all but one of those nights, since they needed the room for a new delivery. Our hardest part of having a preemie was definitely the overload of information at the hospital to the lack of it once we were home. We had so many social workers and volunteers visit us the first two days that it got to be frustrating, because we were being kept away from our newborn. But once we got home, there was nothing, as far as help and support. This woman sure knows what the preemie mommies need! Best of luck to her.I’m pregnant again, and labeled high risk, and I’ve decided to blog about it. I hope to ask to add my blog to that lovely list on the right. This time around, I’ll be getting progesterone shots and taking extra steps to try and delay atoehnr early delivery. This, it seems, is atoehnr topic that could use more information and help for expecting parents: giving birth after a premature birth.Good luck, preemie mommies!

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