Sharing important stories in a time of change
Children’s Health Foundation, formerly CMRF Crumlin and Temple Street Foundation, is a new and unified children’s healthcare charity based in Dublin. CHF raises vital funds to support sick children and their families in CHI hospitals and urgent care centres – from funding vital life-saving equipment and providing essential patient and parental supports to making ground-breaking, paediatric research possible.
Children’s Health Foundation has been a client of MediaHQ since December 2015 and in that time, it has shared over 1,050 press releases. CHF came into its own in January 2019 when Temple Street Foundation and CMRF Crumlin joined forces. Through the transitional phases of both the charity and the world during COVID-19, they have continued to support Children’s Health Ireland by communicating their mission to support the urgent, life-saving work that takes place in CHI at Temple Street and Crumlin.
Celine Nic Oireachtaigh is Head of Marketing & Communications at CHF and has worked in communications, marketing, PR and journalism for over sixteen years, having also been employed as a journalist with Dublin’s Q102 and the Local Times Newspaper Group, Press & Marketing Officer with Wicklow County Tourism and Alumni Relations Officer with DCU Educational Trust. Celine works to raise awareness and funding for Children’s Health Ireland with the aim of fulfilling their vision “To give every sick child the very best chance.”
PR is a way to tell important stories
Telling the stories of sick children is a critical part of the work that CHF does and MediaHQ provides a platform to aid in getting that message across. Celine uses MediaHQ to identify the right media contacts to share her story with, save them in media lists, and create releases. These features allow CHF to share campaigns, challenges and events that help them to raise money for children who need it most.
Celine talks about the process of launching events like ‘Trick or Treat for Sick Children’, which requires public awareness and participation for success. PR is a vital aspect of this campaign and Celine put together both national and regional lists using the audience location filter to target the right journalists.
‘It’s really important for us to get the word out about it. We use MediaHQ to send out a national press release when we’re launching the event and this year we had Lucy Kennedy take part in that photocall.’
Talking about reaching local news, Celine praises MediaHQ’s location function which allows Children’s Health Ireland to search for journalists in each county and send out 26 regional press releases per campaign.
‘We also send a regional release across the country. It’s really important that we can tailor them accordingly and have that opportunity to speak to local radio stations.
Getting that immediate feedback and knowing who has opened our press release is invaluable.’
Finding a new way to do things
Since early 2020, Children’s Health Foundation has had to adapt to not only the challenge of launching their new name and look, but faced further challenges when they couldn’t host in-person fundraising events or visit children in hospital.
‘It’s been harder, in 2020 especially, to get our supporters together. Things like our marathons that our teams would take part in weren’t happening or were postponed.
Normally for big events we ask people to get together physically to do things but that wasn’t possible.
We had to look at all of our activities to see how we could do things differently.’
In 2020, Children’s Health Ireland had to take swift action as a result of the effect of COVID-19 on fundraising and the patients that they help. Communications and PR played a vital role and they used MediaHQ’s press release sending function to spread the news about an emergency fundraising campaign which allowed them to financially support the children’s hospitals in a time of crisis. Celine reflects on the emergency appeal and how MediaHQ made it easy to spread the word.
‘MediaHQ helps us to get that message out really quickly and in a really efficient way. For us it’s about speaking to people all over the country and that’s where MediaHQ is really helpful.
Whether it’s reaching out to local communities or reaching out to national media, MediaHQ connects us with the right people to help us get our message out, and does that in a really quick, efficient and helpful way.’
Using PR to tell important stories
PR is a critical vessel for Children’s Health Foundation in raising funds to support sick children and their families in CHI hospitals and urgent care centres. Children’s Health Foundation supports CHI across four pillars; Patient and parental support, lifesaving equipment, research and new services. Celine explains that if people don’t understand what they do and the impact that they have, Children’s Health Foundation can’t play its role in supporting the sick patients, their parents and families and the teams in the children’s hospitals.
Using MediaHQ to create specialist lists and send press releases ensures that CHF regularly makes the news and encourages regular donations and participation in campaigns. Telling difficult stories and showing people how they can make a tangible difference has led to fundraising for the Butterfly Suite in Temple Street, which is a tailor made, self-contained apartment that brings together everything a family needs when their child is going through end-of-life care.
Raising awareness and fundraising is a vital part of the work that Children’s Health Ireland does. Celine uses MediaHQ to duplicate press releases and edit them slightly to match the different regional areas they are targeting. Having this functionality under one roof saves on time and keeping track of multiple releases.
‘Being able to tailor make our lists is really important. The simple functionality is great. When sending a regional release, MediaHQ makes it easy to duplicate each release and tailor it for different locations. It’s great to get that immediate feedback when we put something out.
With MediaHQ, we know how many people have opened it and what the response rate is which gives us a good guide about how it’s performing.’
Insight into key days for better PR
Celine also uses the News Diary, a calendar of events and national days on the MediaHQ database, to plan press releases around dates of note. Celine cites using World Kidney Day as a way to share the ways in which CHF has helped the renal departments while remaining topical to the news cycle.
‘Sometimes you might be caught in the thick of things and you might not be aware that there’s a really significant date in the healthcare sphere coming up.’
Having days of note as part of their communication plan is really helpful for Children’s Health Foundation as it allows them a unique opportunity to discuss projects on relevant days for increased coverage.
Children’s Health Foundation uses MediaHQ to send press releases about upcoming events like ‘Trick or Treat for Sick Children’ six to eight weeks beforehand which gives them the chance to magnify their reach and time to connect with people who take part in advance of the event. Celine describes MediaHQ as a ‘fantastic channel to share about the impact’ that they can have by taking part.
Life after COVID-19
Looking forward, Celine hopes that as life starts to get back to normal, Children’s Health Foundation will be able to do more activities in the hospitals to lift the spirits of staff and patients and to share those beautiful moments with others.
‘Post COVID-19, I’m hoping that we’ll be able to do more of those activities and special events that we would have done previously
that just aren’t possible while keeping people safe, and get those out and share those with people across the country.’