The PR Awards winners will be announced today by the Public Relations Consultant’s Association (PRCA) at the Shelbourne Hotel on Friday 22nd June 2018.
Win or lose, we are delighted to be shortlisted together with our client, the Rutland Centre. Here’s our shortlisted entry:
The Rutland Centre – A Life in Recovery is a Life Saved
“Addiction can and does affect all types of families and communities. We need to challenge the perception that addiction only happens to someone else because that will actually prevent a person or their family asking for help. If we can open up the conversation about addiction, and let people know that there is no judgement and that recovery is possible, then it may help more families who are currently living in situations from which they see no escape.” – Maebh Mullany, Chief Executive, Rutland Centre.
The word ‘addiction’ is one that often has powerful, negative connotations leading to stigmatisation of people affected by addiction and their families. The Rutland Centre’s annual campaign, Recovery Month, aims to break the stigma by providing marginalised communities and people most at risk of addiction with the support and confidence to live their lives in Recovery.
Hundreds of thousands of communities in Ireland are affected by addiction and in particular alcohol addiction. According to the Health Research Board’s National Alcohol Diary Survey, more than 150,000 Irish people are dependent drinkers and more than 1.35 million are harmful drinkers. In 2012, alcohol-related discharges from hospital are estimated to have cost the tax-payer €1.5 billion.
The Public Health Alcohol Bill which aims to tackle alcohol harm is presently progressing through the Dáil, despite heavy lobbying from the drinks industry. The Bill proposes four interventions to reduce the harm caused by alcohol in communities throughout the country, including: minimum pricing, segregation of alcohol in retail outlets, health warnings on alcohol products and the regulation of advertising and promotion on television.
It is against this backdrop that the Rutland Centre operates. The Centre has been providing addiction treatment services at its centre in Knocklyon in Dublin for 40 years and is at the frontline of the treatment of Ireland’s alcohol problem. Approximately 400 people per year are treated at the Rutland Centre for behavioural and substance addictions including: alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex and food. Alcohol is the leading addiction the Centre treats with 91% of those who attended the Rutland Centre in 2016 receiving treatment for alcohol addiction.
Drugs also continue to be a big problem for clients at the Rutland Centre, both prescription and illegal drugs, while cases of gambling addiction continue to grow. The Rutland Centre believes that many addictions can be hidden in Irish society due to the stigma associated with coming forward. It cites people in marginalised communities who are most at risk.
In 2016, the Rutland Centre established its inaugural ‘Recovery Month’ to bring the conversation about addiction in Ireland out into the open and to raise awareness of Recovery. Its aim was to instil confidence in people affected by addiction by making them aware that a life in Recovery was possible and to empower communities to recognise the signs and symptoms of addiction amongst family members and friends.
Recovery Month 2017 took place during the month of September 2017. Its aim in its second year was to communicate the powerful message of Recovery to people affected by addiction and particularly those people in marginalised communities.
Statement of Objectives
1. The first objective of Recovery Month 2017 was to break the stigma associated with the word addiction by raising awareness of the concept of Recovery.
The Rutland Centre aimed to make the concept of ‘Recovery’, synonymous with addiction treatment in Ireland. The success of the campaign to this end would be determined by the quantity and quality of media coverage generated and the key opinion leaders reached throughout the campaign.
2. As part of Recovery Month 2017, the Rutland Centre released information on the trends it had experienced over the previous year at the Centre. One such statistic revealed that 77% of people who completed treatment at the Rutland Centre and entered in to aftercare in the previous year were engaged in Recovery at the time of Recovery Month 2017. Through the communication of these trends, the Rutland Centre aimed to give people the confidence to seek treatment by encouraging an understanding amongst the target publics that Recovery was possible.
3. The next objective was to reach out to people in marginalised communities and their families who were affected by or were most at risk from addiction. The campaign aimed to instil these people with confidence and provide them with the information and support that would assist them in coming forward to seek treatment for themselves, their friends or their family members.
To achieve this objective, the Rutland Centre needed to raise awareness of the challenges and addiction issues affecting these communities. The achievement of this objective would be determined by a strong attendance at the various public events that were organised as part of Recovery Month.
4. Finally, trust is a hugely important motivator when it comes to members of the public engaging with healthcare services. The Rutland Centre needed to ensure strong brand awareness and communicate its long-standing expertise in addiction treatment in Ireland. References to the Rutland Centre in the media coverage alongside strong event branding would be vital in achieving this objective.
Programme Strategy and Planning
The Rutland Centre and Vital Communications worked together to develop a strong programme of activity for Recovery Month that would resonate with the target publics and achieve its objectives for Recovery Month 2017.
Research and Planning
The Rutland Centre identified communities that were most at risk from addiction and to whom it wished to target its message. These included the gay and lesbian community, women, parents of adult children and sports people. A programme of events was identified to appeal to these publics and speakers and specific locations were researched to suit in terms of expected size of audience and potential media interest. Themes were selected for each event that would appeal to the target demographic. The final schedule of events was as follows:
- LGBT in Recovery – A free information session about the risk of addiction and what Recovery would look like for an individual and / or family.Women in Recovery – An evening of music and stories promoting recovery for women, hosted by Mary Coughlan
- Rutland Centre Open House – A healthcare professional CPD training event for General Practitioners followed by a free open day for all professionals and students in the field of addiction.
- Addiction and Recovery in Sport – How to protect yourself and your top athletes. Chaired by broadcaster and journalist, Matt Cooper, the event provided an entertaining and insightful discussion on sport, addiction and mental health with a panel of well-known sports people, including Camogie Star, Anna Geary; All Ireland Winning Hurling Manager, Liam Sheedy; Offaly Footballer, Niall McNamee, Olympic Silver Medal winning boxer, Kenneth Egan and Player Development Manager for Leinster Rugby, Dr Ella McCabe.
- Recovery for Families – Free coffee morning including advice and information on how to help a parent or an adult child achieve recovery. The event was held in association with Age Action and included a free public lecture followed by a free private clinic with Rutland addiction counsellors where families received advice and support.
Recovery Month Ambassador
Sports people were identified by the Rutland Centre as one of the groups most at risk from addiction. To this end, Olympic silver medallist, boxer and councillor, Kenneth Egan was secured to act as the Brand Ambassador for Recovery Month 2017.
As the Recovery Month Ambassador, Kenneth shared his own personal experience of addiction and Recovery, which was invaluable in reaching the public, particularly those interested in sport, and in raising awareness of the overall message of hope and Recovery.
Kenneth provided a quote for the launch press release and participated in a photoshoot. Several media interviews were secured with him at the launch event and in the weeks post event, which added additional value in assisting in securing attendance at the various events that took place over the course of the month.
In addition, the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, T.D. officially opened Recovery Month 2017 for the Rutland Centre. The Minister attended the launch event at which he gave an impassioned speech and also provided media interviews.
Launch Press Conference
The Launch Press Conference took place in the Mansion House in Dublin on Monday 28th August 2017. At the Press Conference, the Rutland Centre announced details of the trends it had experienced in addiction treatment during the previous year. Attending media were provided with a detailed breakdown of statistics on each addiction and specific information relating to addiction in marginalised communities. A photoshoot was organised immediately prior to the press conference. All media were issued with the press release and accompanying photography, featuring Kenneth Egan, the Minister and Rutland Centre representatives.
Addiction is an extremely sensitive topic. Very often it is difficult due to the stigma associated with it, for people to come forward and share their own stories and personal experiences. However, many do wish to share their experiences in the hope that their stories will help others. One male and one female volunteer who had direct experience of alcohol addiction agreed to take part in interviews. As a result, in-depth radio interviews were secured and broadcast at either end of the launch day – on the Newstalk Radio Breakfast Show and Drivetime on RTE Radio 1.
Addiction and Recovery in Sport
Sports-people with an interest and/or experience in addiction and mental health took part in a panel discussion on addiction and sport. The panel discussion was set up to take place in front of a live audience in the style of a sports programme panel such as the ‘Sunday-game’ or ‘Match-of the Day’.
Matt Cooper, presenter of the Last Word on Today FM chaired the panel discussion. Well-known sports panellists from across the sporting world were secured to sit on the panel, including Camogie Star, Anna Geary; All Ireland Winning Hurling Manager, Liam Sheedy; Offaly Footballer, Niall McNamee, Olympic Silver Medal winning boxer, Kenneth Egan and Player Development Manager for Leinster Rugby, Dr Ella McCabe.
Today FM recorded the event and it was broadcast on the Last Word a number of days following the event during Recovery Month.
Recovery for Families
Age Action kindly partnered with the Rutland Centre on the Family Event which aimed to offer advice and information to parents of adult children on helping an adult child achieve recovery. The event was also supported by the Active Retirement Association.
Open House / Screening for Addiction
A medical educational event entitled ‘Screening for Addiction’ was hosted by Dr John O’Connor, Consultant Psychiatrist and Medical Director at the Rutland Centre. The aim of this event was to provide attending GPs with the necessary skills to screen their patients for addiction.
LGBT in Recovery
This was an informational event to support the LGBT community. The Gay Community News was offered exclusive media access to this event.
- 30-35 pieces of media coverage were secured with an estimated reach of over 2.5 million.
- Social media coverage was secured across target channels, Facebook and Twitter.
- The Minister or Health Simon Harris, T.D. posted several Tweets from the event and post event. Kenneth Egan supported the event extensively across his Twitter feed.
- Facebook was used predominantly to promote the individual events to secure attendance. All the events were booked out.
Quality of Media Coverage
- 100% of media coverage pieces mentioned the Rutland Centre and mentioned it in association with Recovery Month.
- Out of the 32 pieces of media coverage documented, 13 targeted the demographics identified in the objectives as follows:
- 2 articles targeted the LGBT demographic
- 3 targeted sports people
- 2 targeted healthcare professionals
- 1 targeted women alone – although all pieces targeted both men and women.
- 5 were regional.
- Vital Communications performed an evaluation of the media coverage based on 7 key attributes that were identified as required criteria to achieve the objectives. Each piece of media coverage was then marked out of 7 depending on which of the following was contained in the coverage:
- Case study – interview with case studies or ambassadors.
- Call to action – book an appointment or event / website address.
- Mention of client in the coverage.
- Interview with the client including quote.
- Contact details for the client
- If the article was positive or negative in nature.
The results were as follows:
- Over 60% of the coverage pieces scored 3 or more.
- 43% of the coverage pieces featured an interview with a case study or the ambassador. The interviews with the case studies were vital in assisting in breaking down the stigma associated with addiction. Declan’s story in particular resonated with people and since Recovery Month, more case studies are coming forward to offer their assistance to the PR activity.
- All pieces referenced the Rutland Centre with 14 outlining a call to action (such as website details or event booking details).
Rutland Centre Enquiries and Bookings
- The Rutland Centre had over 50,000 users on its website in 2017. Website traffic increased by 8% between July and August and remained at this level until October 2017.
- All events for Recovery Month were booked to capacity.
- Enquiries to the Rutland Centre increased and remained steady throughout September.
- The momentum generated from Recovery month continued through to Christmas 2017.