By Katherine Nicol, Senior Vice President, Hager Sharp
The Thoth Awards recognize the most outstanding public relations programs and components developed and produced in the Greater Washington area, highlighting the top accomplishments in PR. That’s pretty meaningful recognition. Adding the fact that Thoth Awards are judged by many of the ‘best of the best’ of our industry – well, that’s where the significance of a Thoth really hits home.
To quote Julia Child, often recognized as much for being an exceptional communicator as for being an exceptional chef, ‘The measure of achievement is not winning awards. It’s doing something that you appreciate, something that you believe is worthwhile.’ In the case of the 2017 Thoth Awards, Hager Sharp was able to do both! We were humbled and honored that our campaign HPV Vaccine Is Cancer Prevention, developed on behalf of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), swept three categories, earning “Best of Show,” “Outstanding Use of Research, Measurement and Evaluation,” and the top award in the category of “Public Service.”
This campaign was about making a difference, Hager Sharp’s mission. With our amazing clients at the CDC, we were able to effectively change the conversation around the HPV vaccine from transmission to preventing cancer, increase the quality of the clinician recommendation, and ultimately, increase HPV vaccination rates among boys and girls.
Why would anybody pass up the opportunity to prevent cancer? The HPV vaccine can prevent more than 90% of HPV-related cancers from ever developing. Yet despite its clear benefits, HPV vaccination rates in the U.S. are well below those of other preteen vaccines. While most adolescent vaccination campaigns target parents initially, our campaign took a different approach. Because healthcare provider recommendation is the single biggest predictor of vaccination, we developed a campaign that began with a heavy focus on providers and strong peer-to-peer clinician engagement before expanding the audience to include parents of adolescents. Our formative research with pediatricians informed a plan to leverage pediatricians as influencers, reinforcing the HPV vaccine as a critical cancer prevention tool. We then executed a multifaceted communications campaign that engaged clinicians across many touch points and included four primary tactics: 1) a paid media campaign, 2) priority partners, 3) peer-to-peer clinician engagement, and 4) exhibits at key medical conferences. Aligned with a Valid Metrics Framework, evaluation included outcome and process measures, all of which exceeded expectations.
The Thoth Award submission process was clear and simple, and an exceptional exercise in synthesizing the highlights of our work. In addition, being recognized for outstanding use of research by leading research-practitioners from the IPR Measurement Commission truly demonstrated the value of incorporating effective and strategic research design into the overarching communications strategy.
When top leaders in the field convene to recognize the accomplishments of their peers, it’s not because it’s part of their job description. It’s because they truly value the work and they understand the very real impact of the results. The authenticity that comes with Thoth Award recognition is unique in our industry and as such, incredibly meaningful to all members of the team. So when you think about that campaign that gets you excited to come to work every day, think about the Thoth awards and remember that the best of the best in our field value you and your great work!