Our Communications Strategy

Communicating Our Aims - Tackling the Issue!

Tackle is the voice of prostate cancer patients and their families in the UK. As a National Federation, we only exist by virtue of our 80+ support groups across the country, representing some 15,000 members. Effective communications is a challenge, not just in dealings with the media, but also in making sure our organisation stays in touch with its grass roots - patients!

So, how do we approach this challenge? Our overall strategy has three themes – Supporting Patients, Raising Awareness and Campaigning on Issues. Tying all three of these together is a communications strategy represented by the picture below:

 

One key goal is to make sure we represent the best interests of our members. We have a unique regional structure whereby an individual from a support group in each region of the country steps up to be a spokesperson for support groups in that part of the country. This way we can stay in touch through regular teleconferences and workshops. We call this Regional Sensing. We also communicate directly with our support groups through regular email Support Group Briefings on particular topics of interest, or to gauge opinions on topics or developments. In addition we stay in touch with individual members through our quarterly Prostate Matters Newsletter.

When it comes to working with the media, we often work in conjunction with Prostate Cancer UK, another charity which has significantly more resources available than Tackle does, and we leverage their media capabilities where we share a common viewpoint. We do, however, have our own Media Relations Support where we validate our external communications from a professional perspective and to achieve maximum impact. During the past year we have had increasing success in having articles published in various national newspapers including The Times, The Independent and The Guardian. We have had an article published in a professional urology periodical. Our influence has also been felt with various UK Governmental bodies such as NHS England and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) where we are increasingly invited to offer submissions and views on various clinical and drug developments.

It is very often the case that our media stories are derived from Patient Stories and Campaigns, where we can use our members’ personal experiences and local campaigns for national benefit. This includes making videos to help spread the word. See examples here and here.

Working as a Federation it is important we send a consistent message out and have some uniformity across our 80+ support groups. To this end we provide a Group Website Template to help groups establish a consistent web presence. We also make sure all of our achievements and our progress reporting appear as WebNews Updates. Where we need to produce additional information, for example for partners of patients, or on topics such as travel insurance or maintaining good health we produce Awareness Leaflets which enjoy a wide circulation. Added to this we also offer Branded Merchandise, such as banners, flags, phone chargers, and branded give-aways such as pens, travel wallets and wristbands.

Finally, we believe it is important for any national organisation to always remember the population it serves and so we have a policy of trustees visiting support groups to maintain this connection. We call these Trustee In Touch Sessions.

Overall, we have developed this integrated communications approach to ensure we maintain an effective two-way exchange internally and to follow a professional approach externally, always remembering Tackle is the voice of prostate cancer patients and their families.