Achieving media saturation

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Alzheimer's Association, Central New York Chapter
City & State:
New York
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

To eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

There is a unique challenge as the communications director for a regional not-for-profit profit organization. Our chapter headquarters is located in Syracuse, with three regional offices located in separate media markets in our footprint – Syracuse, the 79th largest media market in the U.S.; Binghamton, 157; Utica/Rome, 169; and Watertown, 176. The socioeconomic diversity of our territory is vast – ranging from rural areas in our Northern area, to smaller cities to our East and South, to the medium-sized urban center where our headquarters is located. As one might imagine, our constituency demands different service in each area. When pitching a topic to the media, it is incumbent on us to relate to the particular needs of a community without losing sight of the message we are trying to advance.


Managing a media relations program in Upstate New York is becoming more difficult. With a drop in advertising revenue, the media companies which own the area’s television stations and newspapers are cutting staff and content. With less space for news and less people pursuing it, the Alzheimer’s Association, Central New York Chapter must be more creative in its approach. Our organization differs from some other non-profits, as we are dependant on the level of public awareness for the disease and the services we provide. Building and maintaining relationships with reporters and editors is critical to being successful in this realm. The Microsoft donation of its Office suite, obtained through techsoup, provided both the tools for developing our materials to publicize and the means for contacting and managing our media relationships.


The donation of Microsoft Office provided the Alzheimer’s Association, Central New York Chapter with multiple tools to advance our spring Facts and Figures media campaign. There was a dual message of our spring campaign. Our national association would unveil a report summarizing the impact of Alzheimer’s disease, including updates to its national toll – 5.3 million Americans with the disease, 9.9 million American caregivers, $148 billion in annual costs and a new case of Alzheimer’s developed every 70 seconds. The second leg of the campaign would be the release of local projection, which showed a 24 percent growth in the disease since 2000. We used Microsoft Word to develop the peripheral materials – talking points, press releases, fact sheets, etc. – for the campaign. Pitching local media sources was done almost exclusively via e-mail, using Microsoft Outlook and our already existing Exchange mail product. My Outlook contact file houses the information for the reporters and editors for every media outlet in our coverage area. With reporters constantly on the move seeking stories, we were able to access reporters via e-mail, on their Blackberry or iPhone devices, rather than calling and leaving messages for them in the newsroom. The Outlook calendar, in conjunction with our Exchange e-mail, was used to check the schedules of staff spokespeople and book those staff members with the appropriate media contacts. By syncing all of this to my smartphone, I was able to stay connected with members of the media when I was out of the office. I able to respond quickly to their questions and maintain a monopoly on their attention. In my experience, a member of the media that waits is easily distracted by other stories.


The result was one of our most successful media campaigns. We achieved saturation in each of the four markets, with appearances on every local television evening news show but one. We had number appearances on radio and a placement in the Syracuse newspaper — The Post-Standard­. The Syracuse ABC affiliate, WSYR-TV, hosted chapter staff during its morning news show from 5-7 a.m. for an “ask the experts” call in panel. Nearly 100 calls were fielded during the two-hour period, as we were able to reach people who may not ordinarily contact the organization. Chapter staff captured demographic information and basic case notes related to the caller’s issue. Volunteers later inputted that information into our Microsoft Access-based programs and services database. The end result was meeting our primary campaign objective – an increase in contacts to the chapter’s 24-hour Helpline (a 13 percent increase during that quarter), as well as increased requests for information from the support groups which the chapter manages. The Access portion of the donation allowed us to extrapolate vital data so that our dementia experts could make follow-up calls and provide further, more in-depth assistance.


Our organization’s leaders see the value of staying in front of technological changes. When we purchase new software or hardware, it is not for novelty but because it will increase the efficiency of our staff. The Microsoft donation program offered through techsoup allows us to stay at the forefront of technological changes, while maximizing our donor’s investment in our cause.

Submission Category
Transformations to Maximize Impact
Project Image
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