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Case Study: NHS



Support NHS BEN’s (Birmingham East and North’s) overall ambition to be the country’s leading Primary Care Trust (PCT), significantly reducing health inequalities, often in the most deprived areas of Birmingham.


Amplify marketing communications to make them more effective.


Communicate complex healthcare messages to resistant and hard-to-reach target audiences.


Give the in-house PR team new ideas and provide extra resource to allow them to be more proactive.


Balance publicity with controversy.




We worked with research specialists, Dr Foster, identifying the need for the PCT to change the nature of its relationship with, and its communications to, the community.


A survey was created to garner public feelings and opinions towards NHS BEN.


Then we devised an over-arching strategy and positioning for NHS BEN based around the notion of a ‘deal,’ fostering a grown-up relationship with shared responsibility for NHS funds which was:


“Every individual has a responsibility to look after their own health. Unexpected things can happen, but certain behaviours can increase the risk of developing serious health problems and therefore increased cost to the NHS. We are asking you to make changes to those behaviours, so that when the unexpected strikes you or your community, we’ll be better able to take care of you.”


Identified which behaviours should be tackled to have a significant impact on NHS funds and health inequalities.


Developed individual PR campaigns including strategy, media partnerships, online seeding, case study recruitment and press kits, for implementation by specialist partners and the in-house team, to tackle smoking, drinking and childhood obesity. These were designed to hit all stakeholder audiences in a timely fashion, with key messages to optimise coverage and amplify marketing communications.


Advised on predicted response to the shocking imagery that was being used in their advertising and the online reactions to the controversial film, ultimately harnessing these to turn a negative into a positive.




The first part of the ‘deal’ strategy to amplify communications around key preventable behaviours delivered exactly to plan.


Local PR hit all leading media for target audiences – including Sunday Mercury, Birmingham Post, Birmingham Mail, BBC Radio West Midlands and BBC 1 Midlands Today, achieving maximum reach. We also succeeded in recruiting a high-profile BBC radio breakfast presenter to take up one of the challenges.


National coverage boosted the message further, including The Guardian, The Express and through the PA.


Trade coverage got the message out to GP’s, pharmacists and internal audiences – the anti-smoking campaign was so successful pharmacies couldn’t cope with demand for the Stop Smoking Programme.


As a result of government cuts and the disbanding of the PCTs, our activity was unfortunately cut short, and we were unable to complete the programme.


The in-house team welcomed our support and the ideas and found the campaigns very effective.