Community Cooperation Yields Healthy Results for Newspaper

The New York Daily News has been a long-time sponsor of various community outreach programs. But in 2001, the paper's leadership realized it needed an initiative that would specifically target its core audience of middle-aged men. The newspaper set out to connect with that audience by screening 20,000 New Yorkers for prostate cancer. Prostate health was a good fit for reaching middle-aged men: While it's not the most pleasant topic, prostate cancer is a major concern for the paper's core readers. And in terms of public awareness, the timing was right. Joe Torre, the manager of the Yankees, had just had prostate cancer surgery, and Mayor Giuliani also was suffering from the disease, producing heightened awareness. They are among the nearly 190,000 men in the United States diagnosed with prostate cancer each year. More than 30,000 men die of the disease each year, according to the American Cancer Society. Ken Frydman, who heads up PR for the Daily News, turned to the paper's agency, Dan Klores Communications, which also represents several prominent healthcare clients. DKC helped the paper develop the concept for the city-wide screening, which was to begin on Father's Day, as well as the partnerships that made it possible. Fellow DKC clients St. Vincent Catholic Medical Centers of New York and Continuum Health Partners, the parent company for Beth Israel Medical Center, St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center and Long Island College Hospital, were able to provide 60 testing locations and personnel for the campaign. With a guarantee of coverage from the Daily News, the PR team decided from the outset to devote its efforts to seeking additional coverage from the local TV and radio community. "From a media standpoint, we drove this with multimedia all the time," says Sean Cassidy, DKC partner. To garner that coverage, Cassidy's team worked the phones in advance of the press conference, and ultimately drew coverage from nearly all the local media outlets. But other dailies (the competition) were a PR hurdle. To overcome resistance to covering the event, the PR team appealed to editorial altruism. "We sold this program on the merits of its benefits to the community," says Jim Mandler, corporate public affairs director at Continuum. "We had to play that humanitarian card, to show them that they owed it to their audience to make them aware of this opportunity." When the prostate screenings began on Father's Day, the Daily News ran a four-page special section of prostate-related news and interviews. The paper continued running such stories all week. Critical Cooperation Even before the kick-off event, the various PR teams each had a significant role to play in coordinating communications -- some internal, some external. Within each hospital system, for example, the communications experts focused their attention on internal communications. "First of all, we had to get the approval of the senior leadership," Mandler says. Mandler met with the relevant executives, then set up a meeting with the managers of all the medical sites that would be involved in the testing, bringing together about 20 employees to communicate logistical information. Cassidy also coordinated media so each of the players got equal billing. The Results Most importantly, the community response was tremendous, with 20,000 men screened for the chemical marker that could indicate the presence of prostate cancer. About 10 percent of those men tested positive and were referred on for further medical care. The 2001 prostate screening scored major media throughout the city. Aside from the Daily News' own heavy coverage, every local broadcast station covered the initial press conference, as did three news radio stations (WCBS, WINS, Bloomberg 1130). The PR team scored two live afternoon local news appearances (WBCS-TV) for Les Goodstein, president of the Daily News, and four feature television segments. To generate continued interest in the event from year to year, organizers have enlisted the support of the American Cancer Society to promote the campaign via its Web site and direct mail. They also have added three new hospital groups to the sponsor roster. And for the 2002 kick-off event, they scored Rudy Giuliani as their main speaker. Lessons Learned With the Daily News driving the media coverage, the biggest PR challenge was for hospital staff to gear up on short notice, says Jim Mandler, corporate public affairs director at Continuum Health Partners. "We knew the program would absolutely fail without the support of the hundreds of front line employees within our hospital system," he says. How to win their support? These are medical providers, so sell them on the medical merits of the program. "We told them that first and foremost this was a public service," says Mandler. "At the same time, we showed them that it would be a great way to promote their own programs, since it would create a tremendous amount of foot traffic into these walk-in clinics." (Contacts: Sean Cassidy, 212/981-5233,; Jim Mandler, 212/ 523-7772,

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