National Asthma Council Australia

Challenge: More than two million Australians have asthma. Despite its prevalence, myths and misconceptions about asthma still abound and hundreds of Australians needlessly die from asthma each year. Asthma cannot be cured, but it can be managed. The National Asthma Council Australia has an ongoing need to keep asthma high on the public agenda in order to improve the life and health outcomes of people with asthma and their carers.

Insights: Asthma is of concern to all Australians. Every Australian either has the condition or they care about someone who suffers from asthma. Most Australians are therefore receptive to asthma-related messages when they appear in the mass media.

The changing nature of asthma triggers throughout the year provides a regular calendar of potential touch points to engage with, and educate, the media who in turn act as a conduit to relay timely messages to the wider community.

Campaign: Recognising the relevance and topicality of asthma, Ogilvy Public Relations Melbourne developed an ongoing media relations strategy to keep credible asthma messages in the media year round, harnessing changing seasonal triggers and providing journalists with ‘one stop’ access to Australia’s leading asthma experts.

This press office function has been undertaken by Ogilvy PR Melbourne consultants for over eight years, effectively reinforcing the Council’s position as the peak asthma body in Australia and a valuable and reliable resource for media.

Activities include health reporter liaison (consumer and medical press), development of sponsorship guidelines, media training and crisis management, as well as implementation of an annual media program designed to generate widespread grassroots awareness with angles ranging from ‘soft’ stories such as a ‘Spring Survival Guide’ for allergy sufferers and ‘Christmas Tree Asthma Trigger Alert’ to ‘hard news’ such as releasing the annual asthma death toll statistics.

The consumer media relations program is supported with an ongoing health professionals program, ensuring that health professionals who treat patients with asthma are up to date on the latest patient information and resources.

Results: Quality reporting of asthma in the consumer media keeps asthma top of mind in the community, it has reinforced the fact that we need to continue to take asthma seriously and it has increased understanding of the condition, its triggers and its management.

Media relations activities for the National Asthma Council Australia have also helped heighten political awareness of asthma and proved to be a key plank in the Council’s successful lobbying to have asthma made a National Health Priority Area.

The National Asthma Council’s press office is now the first port of call for medical journalists seeking local comment on any new asthma initiative including new research findings.