Health observances like these are annual day-, week-, or month-long awareness events—typically established by patient organizations—featuring educational activities and press announcements designed to focus attention on a disease or health issue. These events can really work. For example, during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, the number of women who call for mammogram appointments traditionally spikes. And when approached correctly, awareness events can represent real opportunities for brand teams.
Who else is playing? The National Health Information Center listed 218 national health days in its 2004 calendar. Up to a dozen observances each month struggle to make themselves known. May, for example, is National Arthritis Month, National High Blood Pressure Month, and National Osteoporosis Awareness & Prevention Month. Many events slip by unnoticed.
What's the track record? Determine how extensively consumer media have covered the observance in the past. If few stories have appeared, it may suggest that it will take extra support and outreach to generate media interest.
What constitutes success? If brand mentions are your primary—or only—metric, consider that your branded announcement will be competing for column inches with general disease stories. If your product is not the market leader, your efforts may end up benefiting your competitor.
Are your competitors involved? Have they already partnered with the sponsoring non-profit, and are they generating branded coverage? If so, you must decide whether you can find a way to differentiate your initiative from theirs—or identify another non-profit that would be open to doing a separate initiative that you can own.