Prostate Cancer Awareness Month promised to shine a light on the issue – quite literally – with iconic buildings and structures across the US encouraged to “Light Blue for Prostate Cancer”, a condition that affects one in nine men.
Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) doesn’t stop once Prostate Cancer Awareness Month comes to an end, though, says Colleen McKenna, Vice President of Communications and Public Relations at the Prostate Cancer Foundation, because awareness has to be a year-long affair. “The more people who understand this fact and what they can do to protect themselves, the more lives we will save.”
Asked what advice she has for other advocacy organizations approaching awareness days or months, Colleen says a specific call to action is critical.
“PCF has excellent resources for patients, and we want them to know how to find them, therefore we are very clear about that in our campaigns. Regardless of the activity – whether it be an interview, digital ad, or social post, we always drive people to our free patient resources.”
The group also uses facts and figures to drive their message home, she adds.
Activating men in their health
“We use statistics strategically. The numbers don’t lie – prostate cancer is still a big problem for men, but with early detection the disease is nearly 100% treatable. We want men to understand it’s critical they are an active participant in their healthcare and work together with their doctor to plan a course of action that is best for them.”
Connecting people to evidence-based information is one of the PCF’s core aims, and it’s something the team works at all year round – not just during awareness days and months. To do this effectively, the group links its campaigns to larger national or international programs and even enlists the help of celebrities.
“At the core of each campaign is information that leads men and their families to PCF’s patient resources. Sometimes in order to capture someone’s attention, it’s helpful to build a campaign around a specific theme that resonates with a certain group of people,” Colleen explains.
For example, in February, the group worked with the actress Kristen Bell, star of the NBC comedy series “The Good Place”, whose own experience resonates with people providing care and support to prostate cancer patients.
“For better or worse, many publications prefer to feature celebrities rather than subject matter experts alone,” Colleen notes. “Having a celebrity ambassador communicate our message of early detection and education allows us to reach a greater number of people.”
Following on from the TRUE campaign honoring caregivers, April’s Know the Numbers, during National Minority Health Month, calls attention to the significant racial disparities that impact the disease. Meanwhile, Home Run Challenge, in June, helps raise awareness and funds for research through a partnership with MLB.
“Having consistency with our campaigns year-on-year, with celebrities to help amplify,” Colleen finishes, “has really helped to make them stand out.”