Periodontal disease – or gum disease – is the sixth most prevalent health condition in the world, affecting 743 million people, including over half of U.S. adults over the age of thirty. Despite this, most people are not familiar with the term, or know that there are dentists who specialize in the care and treatment of gums.
To raise awareness of gum disease and help combat the problem, the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) worked with Weber Shandwick to launch its first large-scale PR campaign. The main objectives were to increase awareness of periodontists and their expertise, and to motivate consumers to seek more information from their dentists.
Periodontal disease is mostly preventable, treatable and often reversible, but is associated with numerous other health issues, including chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and leads to 85,000 emergency-room visits a year.
To help convey the message, Weber Shandwick realized that scolding people would not resonate, so came up with a positive theme, “Love the Gums You’re With.” They engaged relationship expert Chris Harrison (from ABC’s “The Bachelor”) to talk to consumers about gum health on a national media tour. Coverage included “The View” (Harrison guest hosted), “Huffington Post Live,” CNN, “New York Live,” and OK!TV.
National outreach was complemented by the first AAP local spokesperson network, in which periodontists spoke to local/regional media, resulting in AAP coverage in NPR, SheKnows.com, Expert Beacon and Chicago TribLocal, among others.
Weber also created an internet press kit that included photos, fact sheets, and infographics,; a content hub on a special section of the AAP’s website, and a “state of gum health” report. Consumers could also share their commitment to their gums—and generate further campaign exposure—by posting to their Facebook pages select branded images such as the one called “To Love, Honor and Floss.”
The campaign’s results had real teeth to them. They included:
- 2,600 media mentions with an audience reach of close to 140 million
- A 519% increase in AAP social media mentions post-launch
- 35 Satellite Media Tour (SMT) and Radio Media Tour (RMT)/ interviews resulting in 539 TV airings, 783 radio airings, and 40 web airings during campaign launch
- AAP’s Twitter account @PerioNews gained 189 new followers, reaching a total of 1,779 followers from April-July 2014
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