National Media Strategy Helps Cancer Center Reach Patients and Influence Physician Referral Base


Karmanos Cancer Institute, an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center in Michigan, sought to enhance brand authority and industry recognition among two key audiences: oncologists and patients.

Physicians, researchers and patients from national cancer treatment brands appear frequently in trade and general interest media. They serve as experts at conferences, on podcasts, and as authors of guest bylines and op-eds. This stream of exposure continually reinforces their brand among audiences and drives patient volume.

Karmanos sought to similarly promote its world-renowned cancer researchers and oncologists, but it needed additional resources to undertake media and influencer outreach on a national level.

Strategy and Tactics

We conducted a competitive media analysis to understand Karmanos’ share of voice in desired media and pinpointed areas of unique expertise, compelling research findings and patient success stories.

We identified health care-focused reporters, editors and influencers and researched key speaking opportunities. We also forecasted emerging clinical, reimbursement or policy initiatives that would influence the future of the cancer treatment space. And together with the Karmanos team, we identified key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure our success.

Execution and Results

Our approach was anchored by in-depth interviews with a dozen senior cancer researchers and oncologists, as well as close collaboration to identify inspiring survivor stories. Our targeted pitches not only attracted media to untapped experts and untold stories, but also showed prospective patients and referrers the cutting-edge care and often superior
outcomes at Karmanos.

In less than a year, Lovell secured 15 articles, three podcasts, two speaking opportunities and a guest byline featuring Karmanos patients and oncologists. Of these, 12 received the highest possible score in placement quality according to our KPIs, and all measured at the highest level of keyword message penetration.

To reach patients and consumer audiences, a Karmanos physician leader advised WebMD’s readers on how to best manage a non-small-cell lung cancer diagnosis, and a former patient who is eight years cancer-free shared his inspiring story with HealthCentral. The Detroit News wrote an uplifting story about a lawyer who was inspired to become a cancer nurse at Karmanos following his wife’s treatment there, which reached national audiences when it was picked up by Yahoo! News.

Other highlights included:

  • A speaking engagement for the network president at a Reuters Health conference
  • A MedCity News INVEST conference panel on cancer health disparities
  • An appearance on Medical World News on cancer telehealth
  • A MarketScale podcast appearance on multidisciplinary cancer treatment
  • A Health magazine interview about health disparities
  • A “day in the life” profile of Karmanos’ CEO by Becker’s Hospital Review
Ultimately, our efforts with Karmanos brought their brand to an audience of more than 112 million in our first year.
Ultimately, our efforts with Karmanos brought their brand to an audience of more than 112 million in our first year.