2013 Platinum PR Awards: Online Communication + SEM/SEO Initiatives

Co-Winner: JPA Health Communications – The Melanoma Research Foundation

The Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF), the largest independent organization dedicated to advancing research around the prevention and treatment of melanoma, saw a need to reach more patients, health care professionals and people at risk of developing melanoma.

Building on the success of efforts JPA Health Communications initiated with MRF in 2011 to raise disease awareness through a traditional SEO effort, JPA identified opportunities to expand the online reach of MRF even further.

The first step in expanding the SEO campaign was enabling every page on the MRF site (including the user forums which contain tens of thousands of pages) to be easily shared on all the social media platforms. This was done in a way that would build MRF’s brand rather than building the brand of the social media platforms. The summaries and titles were customized to assure that every social share would increase SEO.

The SEO Plan shaped all of MRF’s communications activities and materials in a 360-degree manner, including its offline communications, monthly e-newsletter, Twitter and Facebook outreach, website copy and third-party partner outreach.

Along with the execution of its SEO plan, MRF also developed a network of complementary online communications materials. Used together or apart, the materials encouraged members of the melanoma community to learn about the different facets of MRF, including its leadership in developing melanoma research and raising awareness around preventing melanoma.

From January 2012 to May 2013, the site received 1 million visits directly from organic web searches. This change represents more than 600,000 additional visitors, a 145% increase, from the previous 15 months. The metrics reveal the increased online interconnectivity within the melanoma community created by the campaign—and underscore the powerful impact this kind of connection can bring.

Co-Winner: Weber Shandwick - General Motors Revival: GM Dealers Take Comeback Story to the Streets

In the fall of 2010, General Motors had just emerged from a bailout and bankruptcy whose success was far from assured. Its dealer network had shrunk by 25%. The sales force was getting slammed daily in local and national media. GM faced a selling force that had been in the midst of a negative national and local media environment, with skepticism from the media and consumers on the potential “failure” of the GM bailout. You didn’t need to see the dealer survey or anecdotal evidence gathered from word of mouth to know that the scale of the problem was unprecedented.

In the midst of this turmoil, GM and Weber Shandwick worked to find a way to repair the company’s relationship with their dealers and bolster the dealers’ image in their local markets. There was a “new GM story” to tell and GM and WS launched “PR Showroom: Public Relations for GM Dealers,” a first-of-its-kind online toolkit that provided dealers the resources to conduct their own hyperlocal media relations. Often the “consumer face” of the company, GM had never empowered its dealer network with the tools to help them tell the story of the products they are entrusted with selling.

All materials available on PR Showroom can be easily downloaded, customized and distributed locally in dealers’ hometown news markets. Along with the releases, key messages, photography, videos and audio files, local story ideas, ideas for grassroots events and suggested social media updates are available to help dealers tell their story. In addition, toolkits on media relations, community engagement, social media, crisis communications and other relevant topics are provided to help dealers engage their local media.

This industry-first initiative created positive perceptions of GM’s brands and products to support consideration and sales at the hyperlocal level. PR Showroom is a gold standard for how GM, and the industry, should communicate with dealers.

Honorable Mentions:

  • The Coca-Cola Company and Methodologie - The Coca-Cola Company 2011 Year in Review: Passionately Refreshing a Thirsty World
  • Pepco Holdings, Inc. - A Change of Direction
  • Rockwell Automation and PadillaCRT - Bringing RSTechED to the Manufacturing Masses
  • Weber Shandwick - The Breakfast Project