UTS Library

The Difference Is You! Campaign


Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia

PR Company: 

Palin Communications

Award Category: 

Award Type: 

Call Number: 

2010 C14 - 6



Executive Summary: 

Each year more Australian men die from prostate cancer than breast cancer[1] but it’s widely accepted that the chance of hearing about prostate cancer in the news is much less than hearing about other cancers.

In addition to the challenge of raising the profile of prostate cancer in the Australian media, the leading Australian national organisation that promotes awareness, support and research into prostate cancer - The Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia - receives a negligible level of support and funding from the federal government. It instead relies on the continued generosity of corporate Australia and the general public.

In a collaborated approach, Palin Communications and Write Stuff Communications partnered with the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) to develop a multi-faceted media, marketing and sponsorship campaign to address these two issues during September 2009 – International Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

The Difference Is You! campaign was developed with one specific aim - to encourage as many Australians to support PCFA by hosting a BBQ during September 2009, and raise funds that go directly towards PCFA’s work.

From a “standing start” the campaign achieved over 300 media stories, over 800 fundraising registrations, 642 additional donors and exceeded fundraising expectations by 15%.

[1] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) Cancer in Australia: an overview, 2008. AIHW cat.no. CAN 42.

Situation Analysis: 

A two-fold communication problem

Regardless of the high incidence and mortality rates of prostate cancer in Australia, the disease faces two major communication obstacles.

First, media interest in prostate cancer is dwarfed by interest in other health issues that receive a lot of attention and support from various organisations across Australia.

For example, there are numerous national and state breast cancer organisations who actively communicate with media (and each other) throughout the year to keep breast cancer top of mind with the public.

Second, the low levels of government funding make it difficult to “cut through” with messages.

PCFA relies on funding from corporate Australia and the public in order to:

  • Fund world class research into the cause, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of prostate cancer;
  • Raise awareness about prostate cancer in the Australian community;
  • Provide support, information and advocacy to men and their families impacted by prostate cancer.

The low level of government funding in turn influence the progression of research projects and publishing of research papers. According to PubMed[2] in 2008 there were over 100,000 more papers published on breast and gastrointestinal cancer compared to prostate cancer.

 Situation Analysis graph

The problem PCFA had to overcome was low awareness and low media interest in a disease that kills over 3,300 Australian men each year - and limited funds at PCFA’s disposal to improve this.

Previous campaigns

In previous years, PCFA felt it had missed a chance to implement a media/public awareness campaign to “own the month” of September - International Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

In 2008, PCFA did not execute an integrated campaign for September and as a result, the total number of donors and income were limited due to lack of awareness with the Australian public and media.  

The opportunity

PCFA felt there was an opportunity to drive a major campaign during International Prostate Cancer Awareness Month to build on their profile and to raise much needed funds.

The 2009 campaign was developed as a direct result of the national collection data undertaken in 2008 by Australian National Opinion Polls (ANOP) on behalf of PCFA (refer to Appendix B). This showed that while many men were now aware of prostate cancer, there was little recognition of the role that PCFA played as the peak body.

The decision was made to implement a campaign that integrated public relations, direct marketing, advertising and events. The aim of the campaign was to elevate PCFA’s profile and encourage people to host a BBQ for fundraising. 

Public relations ensured that Australians were exposed to The Difference Is You! campaign via several channels. These included tailoring media opportunities, developing a clear call-to-action that underpinned all media/stakeholder communication, and integrating third parties to support the call-to-action.

[2] PubMed search papers listed, 2008.


Looking back at 2008

PCFA analysed several factors during the development of The Difference Is You! campaign.

Research diagram

Anecdotal evidence also confirmed that PCFA’s support groups wanted the opportunity to drive media coverage. At the time, PCFA had more than 90 support groups nationally which provided the foundation with opportunities for widespread, targeted local media relations.

Media targets were carefully assessed to ensure as many interest areas were approached. By the end of the campaign, Palin Communications and Write Stuff Communications has been in direct contact with national, major metro, suburban and major regional media as well as women’s interest, men’s interest, health and lifestyle and healthcare professional media.

Target Policies: 

Based on the research conducted ahead of the campaign (as described on page 5), the following were identified as key publics for The Difference Is You! campaign.

Australian public

Prostate cancer is a disease that impacts the entire community. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare1, in 2010 alone almost 20,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and more than 3,300 will die as a direct cause of prostate cancer.

Wives and partners, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, grandchildren and friends are all affected by a prostate cancer diagnosis. The campaign ensured that it did not just focus on men but the entire community to maximise exposure and fundraising opportunities.


All of PCFA’s sponsors were given the opportunity to collaborate with Palin Communications and Write Stuff Communications on media relations opportunities as a way of promoting their involvement in PCFA’s campaign. 

Healthcare professionals

It was anticipated that the campaign would generate enquiries about prostate cancer during September and an effort was made to keep healthcare professionals informed via medical and nursing media.

In addition, Federal/local governments, PCFA support groups, schools, local councils and clubs were also identified as secondary target publics due to their involvement with PCFA in past campaigns and their potential for fundraising.

Communication Strategy: 

It was decided to implement a multi-faceted campaign with a number of elements:

  • Consumer PR stream –driving awareness about the new campaign via national and local media relations, launching a new Community Service Announcement (CSA) TV campaign and aligning with sponsors for cross promotional and media opportunities.
  • Research-focused PR stream – profiling research projects to demonstrate how PCFA invested funds towards ongoing research.  
  • Direct marketing – developing campaign collateral that could target specific publics as a way to drive more BBQ registrations.
  • Nation-wide events – PCFA partnered with several iconic venues to turn them “blue” in honour of the campaign and  to give media a unique photo/filming opportunities in each state.
  • Online – this phase ensured that all registrations for the BBQs were recorded during September. The PCFA website was upgraded to promote the BBQ fundraising campaign and other initiatives.  


Consumer PR stream

Palin Communications and Write Stuff Communications utilised this stream as an opportunity to drive public interest in the BBQ initiative and to align with sponsors to identify cross promotional and media opportunities.

The national focus for the campaign was to launch a new CSA TV campaign ahead of the 1st September. The TV campaign was developed to raise awareness about the impact of prostate cancer and to encourage BBQ registrations.

The TV campaign was launched on the 12th August to all target media and PCFA stakeholders. The launch also provided print media with the opportunity to prepare editorial in advance. 

The 1st September marked the official ‘start’ to the campaign and broadcast interviews were arranged with PCFA representatives.

In order to drive a steady stream of consumer media activity during September, template media releases were developed for support groups, key parliamentarians and sponsors (including the Commonwealth Bank, Bonds, Bunnings, Scarborough Wines, Simpson Greetings, Paramount Home Entertainment, Davinci – Grooming for Men, RSVP.com.au and Farmoz). The template media releases were amended to make reference to local initiatives while still keeping all key messages consistent.

Certain sponsors (i.e. Bunnings and the Commonwealth Bank) arranged their own BBQ opportunities, which provided more local media opportunities.

Research-focused PR stream

Running alongside the consumer PR stream, a research-focused PR stream was also implemented.

To promote PCFA’s involvement and investment in world-class Australian research, key research projects were chosen and profiled for major metro media.

Local media opportunities were developed by working closely with key researchers - Professor Pam Russell (NSW), Professor Des Richardson (NSW), Dr Grant Buchanan (SA), Dr Jarad Martin (QLD), Dr Jonathan Harris (QLD), Professor Robert Newton (WA), Dr Daniel Galvão (WA), Professor Ian Davis (VIC) and Dr Patrick Humbert (VIC).

A media release was developed for each state highlighting the “newsworthy” aspects of each project and a clear call-to-action for fundraising.

To link in with the campaign’s broader activities, the distribution of each media release was work with.  

Direct marketing

Underpinning all media activity, national direct marketing to key stakeholders and potential donors helped drive BBQ registrations.

Campaign collateral was developed to encourage specific target publics to get involved in the BBQ fundraising campaign.

The suite of materials included inserts, posters, personal letters, flyers and promotion cards (refer to Appendix A) which were distributed to:

  • Selected Commonwealth Bank branches
  • NSW and WA local councils
  • NSW clubs
  • PCFA’s national database
  • NSW, QLD, SA, VIC and WA schools
  • Audience at a Wallabies game

The copy in all direct marketing communication was consistent with all media materials, campaign key messages and directed all consumers and stakeholders to the PCFA website for BBQ registration.

Nation-wide events

PCFA partnered with some of Australia’s most iconic buildings to “turn Australia blue”. The official launch of the campaign was marked by the Sydney Opera House turning blue on the 1st September.

The idea was promote the campaign, celebrate the awareness month and to create a visually distinctive media opportunity.

The venues that “turned blue” were:

  • Parliament House - ACT
  • The Sydney Opera House – NSW
  • Big Merino, Goulburn – NSW
  • Museum of Contemporary Arts, Sydney - NSW
  • Brisbane Sky Needle – QLD
  • QUT Cube – QLD
  • Brisbane Treasury Casino – QLD
  • Bell Tower – WA
  • North Terrace, Adelaide – SA
  • St Francis Xavier Church, Adelaide – SA
  • Melbourne Arts Centre Spire - VIC


As a way to drive BBQ registrations throughout September, PCFA upgraded its website to promote the fundraising campaign first and foremost. A campaign splash page was created to sit on top of the PCFA homepage giving visitors the opportunity to (1) donate, (2) register for a BBQ, (3) enter a Commonwealth Bank-driven competition and, (4) receive tips on how to run a BBQ fundraiser.

As an added incentive, the Commonwealth Bank ran an online competition during September to promote the BBQ campaign. Visitors were given the chance to win a 2010 Commonwealth Bank Series cricket prize with the only criterion for entry being to register for a BBQ and strive to be the biggest fundraiser for the campaign.  


The campaign generated substantial media interest and established a new style of fundraising and awareness initiative that PCFA can build on for the future.

Results diagram


Evaluation diagram

From a “standing start”, The Difference Is You! campaign was considered highly successful thanks to the close relationship PCFA maintained with Palin Communications, Write Stuff Communications as well as all official partners and sponsors.

Every aspect of the campaign managed to remain consistent with the overall goal – generate more awareness on prostate cancer with a clear call-to-action of hosting a BBQ to raise funds for PCFA.

Analysis of the campaign has confirmed that all objectives were not only met but exceeded qualitative targets.

Based on this success the 2009 campaign, PCFA now has the framework to deliver a sophisticated and successful campaign which will be executed in September 2010.