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Healthcare

An Ebola Vaccine Would Have Been Developed Already, but Congress…

NIH director

Meet Dr. Francis Collins.

He is a man under a little bit of stress at the moment, although his rocking rendition of a Buffalo Springfield jam doesn’t show it. Collins is the director for the National Institutes of Health, and given the hullabaloo over Ebola, the man’s visibility (if not his popularity) has increased a skosh.

Dr. Collins has been poked and prodded for a comment about efforts to halt this terrible ailment, and he uncorked one — shots fired at Capitol Hill!

Basically, he would have had a vaccine already but for the thing we call Congress.

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CDC: Dallas Nurse Contracts Ebola Due to ‘Inadvertent Breach of Protocol’

Dr. Mark Lester

This past weekend in the Dallas/Fort Worth region was supposed to be all about the Texas/Oklahoma game at the U.S. mecca of fried food: the State Fair of Texas. We had great weather, but something was looming…and it wasn’t good.

North Texas has been a little hysterical lately given the goings-on of the past couple of weeks. A man named Thomas Eric Duncan left Liberia, came to Dallas, and brought with him the first confirmed U.S. case of Ebola. Regretfully, he lost that fight, but not before the hospital caring for him entered an ongoing PR battle.

Now, one of the nurses who did the caring has contracted the disease. And the hospital may have a case of the PR yips.

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Will the ‘Angelina Effect’ Spread Far and Wide?

angelina1Angelina Jolie made the stunning announcement last May that she had a preventative double mastectomy after genetic testing found that she had an 87 percent chance of developing breast cancer. In the months since, studies show that the number of women having that genetic test has doubled in Britain. Researchers found that at 21 medical centers, there were 4,847 requests for the tests in June and July 2013. There were 1,981 requests for the same time period in 2012.

“The study of the so-called ‘Angelina effect’, published in the journal Breast Cancer Research, credited Jolie’s glamorous appearance and relationship with Hollywood actor Brad Pitt for helping to lessen women’s fears about surgery,” reports Thomson Reuters.

Earlier this month, a similar increase was found in Canada. With Breast Cancer Awareness Month coming, the timing of this news could generate further interest in this testing.

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The ALS ‘Ice Bucket’ Challenge: When Schtick Becomes a #PRWin for Charity

Lou Gehrig Speech

It is called Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and before the New York Yankees of the 1930s, no one really knew about this tragic disease that attacks the neurons in your brain that connect to the spinal cord. Even the top ALS advocacy group will tell you that:

ALS was first found in 1869 by French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, but it wasn’t until 1939 that Lou Gehrig brought national and international attention to the disease.

When the ‘Iron Horse’ got afflicted with the disease, ended his historic career in baseball, and gave what is easily one of the top three speeches of all time, ALS got a much-needed nickname — “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”

The foundation got its own sort of kickstarter campaign as well. Awareness went up. Involvement went up. And donations went up. And now, decades later, we have people dunking themselves in ice water. To wit, I say, “Whatever works.”

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INTERVIEW: Ellen Barry, New PR Brand Champion for LIVESTRONG

livestrong mantra

Last week, we brought you a story on the brand re-awakening of a known advocacy team based in Austin known as LIVESTRONG.

Oh sure, you may have heard about the place. And you may recall the tumult caused by its founder a few years back. However, when you think about an iconic yellow bracelet, does anyone consider the magnanimity this organization has done (even still)?

What about the more than $500 million it raised to date in the fight against cancer? DYK 82% of those funds have gone directly to support its programs and services for survivors? Its numerous programs and partnerships on behalf of cancer survivors? Nothing, huh?

This is precisely why LIVESTRONG CEO Doug Ulman has hired a stalwart for branding and perception management, Ms. Ellen Barry, executive vice president of strategic communications for LIVESTRONG.

And that’s why we reached out to her instantly and asked for an interview. Guess what? She’s after the jump… Read more

FDA Reveals Gender-Based Double Standard in Big Pharma Research

big pharmaQuick poll: Anyone take prescription drugs? Okay, while we count the waving sea of raised arms out there in PR land, the FDA will thank you. Now, for you women out there in that sea, guess what? Big Pharma research is sexist.

No, really. And the FDA just proved it.

A recent study by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proves that a gender-based double standard exists when it comes to tracking the side-effects of popular prescription drugs.

What was that song about bad medicine again?

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LIVESTRONG Rides with PR for a New Horizon

nyp livestrong

A few things in this world have been marketed so seamlessly that consumers cannot think about one without the other.

There’s Disney and Mickey Mouse. Nike and Jordan (or Tiger). Volvo and Safety. Starbucks and Coffee. Susan G. Komen or Mary Kay and the color pink.

Branding is very successful when done right, which is why “staying true to the brand” is vital. And then there was LIVESTRONG. It was a global phenomenon because of an amazing story, a charismatic individual, and a yellow bracelet. Yeah, those were the days.

This week, the Austin-based cancer advocacy organization is looking to do it again with true PR strategy, but can they without … that guy?

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Illinois Like, Totally Hired The Onion to Promote Obamacare Enrollment

onion

No, that’s not a lame joke headline, but it does concern an interesting media strategy: Get Covered Illinois, the organization in charge of that state’s new insurance exchange, will run sponsored content produced by The Onion in the lead-up to the exchange’s March 31 enrollment deadline.

The campaign will include “online banner ads, a video, an editorial and a custom news section” complete with expected zingers like “Recently Insured Man Can’t Wait To Get Out There, Start Seriously Injuring Himself” and this one:

onion_adsPretty good content marketing case study. But will it work?

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CVS Quits Smoking, Gets Defensive About It

16601_10152165436598116_438158652_nThis morning’s biggest CSR news comes via the country’s largest pharmacy chain. As announced in this press release, CVS Caremark will stop selling all tobacco products at its more than 6,000 U.S. locations on October 1st, 2014.

The change comes in the wake of a January surgeon general’s report, which arrived exactly 50 years after the first and tied smoking even more directly to diseases like diabetes, colon cancer and erectile dysfunction (eek). The company spun it as a way of aligning its services and interests, which include public health—nice copy on the tagline, BTW. Here’s the key quote from CEO Larry J. Merlo:

 ”Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy is the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health. Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”

This is a very smart move for several reasons.

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Twitter Is Your New Healthcare Customer Service Line

shutterstock_126278375

Have a great day—and don’t forget to @ us when you tell your 235 followers how much we suck!

The fact that many brands use Twitter for customer service is nothing new; we covered a few of the best feeds last year, and many of them were created strictly to engage with customers. If you check out our listicle you’ll notice that most of the ones we included were consumer brands like Nike, Xbox, Amazon, etc.

But today ProPublica posted a must-read story on how Twitter became the new go-to customer service tool for the healthcare industry—and we thought it worthy of debate.

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