21-04-2020

COMMUNICATION WITH A CAUSE

In this blog, Imogen discusses the importance of communication channels in raising awareness for a cause and key learnings from her experience.

Author: Imogen Woods

  • For the past three years, I’ve worked in B2B communications here at AD and have gained invaluable insight into the many platforms available to support clients with sharing their brand story.

Over the past 18 months, I’ve also been working to tell the story of a cause much closer to home. After being diagnosed with a chronic illness in October 2018, I’ve made it my personal mission to raise awareness and spread the word about endometriosis, a condition that affects one in 10 women but takes an average of 7.5 years to be diagnosed.

With my social media experience, I know the power that platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have. Starting small, I set out to create a social media channel with three goals in mind.

First: to connect with like-minded people who could relate to my experiences. For me, one of the biggest advantages of social media is the power to connect people across the world. This has allowed me to share my experience and support other people with the same condition. With an illness that can be isolating, social media opens up a world of communication.

Second: to raise awareness of the condition. According to research by eMarketer, Instagram has over 26 million users. I see this as 26 million people who have the facility to access my posts and learn about the condition.

Third: to document day-to-day life with this condition so I can look back and see its impact on me. This also gives me great personal insight to share with doctors, politicians or anyone else who needs to understand.

The impact for me is already huge. I’ve connected with over 1,000 people through Instagram alone. I’ve been blown away by the kindness found on the internet, which is so often overshadowed by negativity.

Of course, there’s much more work to be done than what I can achieve alone on a social media channel. So the next steps for me were to go bigger and broader. But how?

Unlike large charities such as Diabetes UK and Cancer Research, less understood conditions don’t receive the funding or support needed to make large campaign splashes or to be heard by a wider audience of people. Working with Endometriosis UK, the main charity that supports this condition, I started to understand the main platforms they are using to be heard and make a change. This brings me another step closer to being part of making a difference.

  • In the past three months, a government enquiry has been launched into the condition. So far there have been over 12,000 responses to a survey into the condition. I was lucky enough to be one of a small selection of women who had the opportunity to present our experiences to a panel of MPs in Parliament and share our views on the changes that are needed. The long-term impact of this is invaluable.
  • In the past six months, we’ve also achieved coverage in mainstream UK broadcast media describing the condition and the implications for sufferers. This was a milestone for the charity in raising awareness.
  • With the condition affecting so many women, a selection of influencers and celebrities have been using their voice and platforms to talk about their individual experiences of the condition. These advocates of the cause are extremely powerful in communicating what needs to change.
  • Once again, the charity have used social media as a key tool to amplify news of these activities

Of course, beyond raising awareness of the condition and reducing the diagnosis time, their priority is supporting women living with it. That’s why I’ve also been working for the charity to co-lead a local support group. Continuing to use our trusted social media platforms as well as using printed collateral such as posters and banners in hospitals, we’ve tripled participation and are helping more women to cope with the condition.

As a comms professional, this personal experience has been a valuable reminder of the importance of clear objectives, using all available channels actively and consistently, being bold, and making a strong message accessible through real, human stories.

There is still work to be done but I feel extremely empowered by what’s been achieved in the last 12 months alone. It’s a big step in the right direction to a better future for women with the condition.

Next time you see an advertising campaign, social media post or news article on a cause that you don’t know much about, take the time to stop and pay attention. Think about the impact of just one extra person understanding the meaning behind it.

If I’ve kept you engaged for this long and you’re still reading this blog, I’ll take this opportunity to spread the awareness just that bit further. To read more about the condition, please visit the Endometriosis UK website.