Category: Best use of integrated communication measurement/research

Client/Entering Company: Cision / Stroke Association

Campaign title: New Era for Stroke

Company Name: Stroke Association


The Stroke Association had to persuade the UK Government to develop a new “stroke strategy” as its existing commitment ended in 2016. Cision analysed the work of the charity’s PR team which launched a petition urging the Government to recommit to its objectives on stroke.

Two outcome-based reports – during and after the petition launch – allowed the charity to change and optimise its PR tactics and, ultimately, show its role in getting the right response from the Government.


Stroke is the third biggest cause of premature death in the UK but this fact is not widely known. The Stroke Association dedicates its time to raising awareness of the dangers of stroke and also fighting for the rights of stroke survivors, who often don’t fully recover.

The charity is in a constant battle to reach the PR coverage levels that cancer and heart disease campaigns achieve and, with the Government’s stroke strategy coming to an end and no review in sight, their main goal for 2016 was to rectify this.

To galvanise the general public into action and generate media attention, the Stroke Association launched an online petition – a New Era for stroke – to allow people to support its call on the Department of Health and NHS England to develop a new stroke strategy.

The petition wanted the Government to:

  • Address “unacceptable” variations in stroke care and treatment in different areas of England
  • Drive progress and create advances in treatment
  • Improve overall support and standards of treatment for people affected by stroke

The main goal of the petition was to get enough signatures to trigger a debate in Parliament. Tasked with getting people to sign the online petition and making them aware of the plight of stroke survivors, the charity’s PR team developed three key messages:

  • Sign our petition at
  • Almost half of stroke survivors in England feel abandoned when they leave hospital
  • Too many stroke survivors are not given the right care after returning home

In order to get these messages across, the Stroke Association wanted to generate coverage in both national and regional press.Since the petition was online, it was also important to generate online content, including direct links to the petition (see Appendix 3).


In January 2016, Cision set up and implemented a measurement programme with the charity – four months before the campaign launch – to help The Stroke Association show how the PR team’s activity was fundamental to the campaign’s success.

The campaign, which lasted for six months, consisted of two stages:

In May, the first phase coincided with the charity’s biggest fundraising month of the year: Make May Purple for Stroke. The official awareness month has been running for five years now, and this year landmarks including The London Eye, Edinburgh Castle and the Spinnaker Tower were lit purple – the colour of the charity’s branding – for the cause. The New Era petition was launched on May 17 with the three key messages.

The second part of the initiative coincided with World Stroke Day on October 28 2016. With only one live month of the petition left after this date, this was the crucial last push to get the volume of signatures required to provoke a debate in Parliament. Messaging remained consistent with the campaign earlier in the year – however, there was a single objective: to obtain enough signatures to secure a debate in Parliament.

Cision worked with the Stroke Association to build a measurement framework to align key output, out-take and outcome metrics with the objectives of the campaign (see Appendix 1 and 2). These included:

  • Mainstream and social weekly volumes mapped against website traffic and petition signatures
  • Survey of key message awareness mapped against message tracking in the media
  • Click-through volumes to the petition site from social media activity
  • Identification and tracking of key influencers and outlets mapped to individual target audience groups. Social influencers included celebrities and health body representatives



To support this last objective Cision used an omnibus survey it developed with market research company Opinion Matters. The survey of approximately 10,000 UK residents asks questions on a range of lifestyle preferences, attitudinal statements, charity support and media consumption habits. The survey was used to build nine specific target audience profiles. By querying the data on their media consumption, it was possible to identify a list of priority target media outlets for each profile. Coverage generated by these target media outlets was tracked as the campaign was launched, along with the resulting reach to the individual target audiences.

Detailed, “deep dive” reporting – in two stages
All results – with relevant detail – were collated into two reports: the first in June, after the petition launch, and the second in January, after the petition was closed to new signatures. These reports integrated data sets from mainstream media content analysis, social media analytics, awareness surveys, website analytics and petition signups.

As a consequence, the Stroke Association could effectively pause and evaluate its work mid way through the initiative and then make direct and immediate – and targeted – improvements. (See Effectiveness section).

Online dashboards

Weekly analysis ensured the PR team could track its progress against KPIs through live online dashboards. Key metrics included spokesperson penetration, message delivery, calls to action and most prolific journalists. The PR team was also able to track the most prominent publications, third party advocates and scaled favourability from slightly favourable to strongly favourable.

Live social media tracking and analysis

As well as tracking the use of the campaign hashtags and general social reach, Cision worked closely with the Stroke Association’s social team, who provided data on the click-throughs to the website that the social media content had generated. This provided direct evidence of the impact of the social campaign.

Cision also highlighted a variety of key influencers – from celebrities to official health bodies. The latter was important as while the Stroke Association was good at gaining wide-reaching celebrity endorsement, in previous campaigns it had been less successful at identifying health bodies with strong social influence (see Appendix 4).

Awareness surveys

Surveys based on a representative sample of 1,000 UK adults were run with market research company Usurv before and after the campaign. This research tracked the awareness, and eventual success, of fundraising (during May) together with knowledge of the online petition. Survey questions concentrated on the key messages and also the media platform from which they had heard the message.


Effectiveness of Assignment

After the first report, the petition had secured 5,000 signatures – far short of target. Cision’s report highlighted that while the PR and social spikes correlated to a massive spike in signatures, the overall impact was not enough.

Although 48% of UK adults were reached by the New Era content and messaging, only 14% had been exposed to coverage featuring a link to the website to sign the petition. Following this feedback, the Stroke Association adjusted its activity and managed to increase the coverage featuring the website link which increased percentage of those directed to the web site to 28%.

Although the first stage was launched to plan, initial reports from the Cision insights team showed the Stroke Association that its crucial New Era petition stories were battling with the less specific Make May Purple fundraising stories. This was a particular problem within regional newspapers, important as they reach older readers, a target audience for the charity.

The same pattern emerged on social platforms: #MakeMayPurple achieved four times as much traction compared to #NewEra. The initial insights report was able to highlight the key fundraising influencers and so The Stroke Association could re-approach them with #NewEra-only content.

Fueled by this knowledge, by the end of 2016, the proportion of adults reached had improved to 55% and all message deliveries were up an average of five percentage points.

Combined with the introduction of case studies on social media and the subsequent seven million rise in impressions of #NewEra and – more crucially – the petition link was shared almost 4,000 times. This potentially reached 3.7 million people.

The survey data showed that only 2% of respondents were aware of the campaign at the beginning of May but, by the end of the campaign, 37% of people were aware of the specific messaging highlighting the lack of support stroke survivors were receiving.

As a consequence, the association’s PR team was able to demonstrate that the change in tactics had been key to getting enough signatures to invoke a debate in Parliament.

When the second report was completed, the Stroke Association had increased signatures on the petition – more than 10 fold – to over 50,000 and received the Government’s response: it confirmed it would safeguard its current policy on stroke and guaranteed a debate in Parliament.

However, while welcoming this response, the Stroke Association is now planning to convince the Government that the strategy now needs to be refreshed.

It has launched a campaign to get the signatories of the petition to each write to their local MP, via an online letter generator, on the Stroke Association’s website. While progress has been made, changing Government policy is a long-haul task. Thanks to the evaluation of the previous stage,the Stroke Association is now equipped with the tools to generate change through its PR activities.


Commenting on the Stroke Association’s use of research and measurement, Anil Ranchod, Deputy Director Public Relations & Communications, said:

“We have followed the latest thinking from AMEC, using first the Barcelona Principles and then the Integrated Evaluation Framework. This has helped make our limited resources work as effectively as possible and means that we’re able to punch above our weight. I’m proud to say that we use measurement to guide our campaign activity for better audience engagement and to show the senior management team the real impact of our communications.

“Make May Purple for Stroke has provided the platform to launch our campaign activities and seen the benefit of several years of learning. We’re now seeing traction in what used to be one of our hardest goals – persuading the Government to understand that stroke treatment and care is a priority.”

Stroke Association Supporting Materials