Background Promoting the work of hospices is challenging, partly due to the nature of society’s taboos around death and dying (Dying Matters Coalition, 2016). One TV company approached hospices to offer a ground-breaking opportunity of developing a documentary. 17 hospices were contacted prior to shooting a short ‘taster’ film, which was used to commission a full 13 week series.
Open up public dialogue on end of life
Celebrate the work of hospices
Showcase all aspects of hospice care, across all ages
Increase hospices’ profile on a local, regional and national level.
Methods Both the Head of Communications and Head of Quality and Clinical Governance were dedicated to the project during filming, ensuring continuity for the crew and hospice team. Staff engagement was crucial. Weekly planning across clinical and communications teams ensured a full range of stories were identified and handled sensitively. The crew followed patients, families, staff and volunteers within the hospice, care homes and the community. A communications and press plan, alongside the TV channel and partners, focused on local, regional and national levels, and a multi-channel communications approach maximised on and offline, with a dedicated Just Giving page. Regular staff briefings were essential as part of communications risk management to ensure careful messaging and timing.
Millions of people reached nationally
Extensive press coverage – Daily Mail, Sunday Express, Metro
Outdoor billboards in prominent positions
Viewing figures of 30 k in the first weeks. Aim to reach 100 k
Significant increase in traffic to hospice website and social media, including Facebook and six–fold increase in Twitter followers within three weeks
Increased dialogue with supporters and peers; increased staff engagement and morale
Greater engagement and networking with new influential audiences
No complaints or negative publicity.
Conclusion The TV series is the most significant opening up of the hospice sector in recent years.
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