Breast Cancer Awareness Month is, arguably, one of the most widely — and enthusiastically — acknowledged observances of the year. Athletes break out pink jerseys and shoes, retailers offer donation opportunities with your purchases, and social media is flooded with pink infographics about breast cancer. For hospitals, Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a prime time for promoting preventive screenings and re-engaging patients.
But COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the number of people scheduling their annual mammograms, even after restrictions have been lifted. The challenge for healthcare marketers is standing out in a sea of pink to get a major point across: Early detection saves lives.
When cancer met COVID-19: a drop in preventive screenings
A July 2022 special report from BreastCancer.org conducted a survey that revealed the toll COVID-19 took on breast cancer care. In addition to routine screenings being disrupted, people actively in treatment for breast cancer also struggled to have their needs met. 1 in 4 people surveyed stated they felt it was more difficult to find care. 1 in 5 expressed fear that their cancer would return due to interruptions in their care regimen. And a whopping 70% share that they delayed, changed, or completely stopped some aspects of their breast cancer care due to the pandemic.
Mammograms — an essential asset for early detection — saw a significant drop as well, with clinics being forced to close temporarily and patients’ lingering fear of COVID-19 exposure after the doors reopened. Even today, many people are struggling to resume their pre-COVID healthcare routines. Care providers are still looking for ways to bring screening rates back to pre-pandemic numbers. And October is the perfect time to give those efforts an extra push.
Say it with your chest — come get your cancer screenings
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an opportune time to put out mammography messaging because people are more receptive to the information during that time. But in order to stand out and create genuine, lasting relationships with patients, you need a long-term marketing strategy with messaging that goes deeper than pink social media posts. In other words, big-picture initiatives ought to be put in place.
Here’s our list of must-do action items to help you prepare for Breast Cancer Awareness Month:
- Fully integrate your campaign. When your entire team — from the oncology department to administrative employees — is behind your mission, they’re likely to help push it forward, share their own personal stories, and start to foster an internal community.
- Make it local and unique. From Texas to California to North Dakota, everyone has a different niche: their own local community. Understanding what’s important to them allows you to lean into your shared values and communicate with your audience appropriately. Building trust leads to relationships, and relationships lead to booked appointments.
- Foster an approachable community. Personal stories, testimonials, and photos are all part of engaging with your community. That connection is the most vital part of truly building a community centered around supporting breast health and the journeys of each individual — from screenings to advanced oncology care.
- Listen to the conversation. You don’t always have to create content from scratch. Social listening is a great way to identify both trends and issues in your community, allowing your brand to provide a POV, solution, resources, and more.
Build relationships, build awareness
During the pandemic, patients were forced to decide what healthcare needs they deemed most important, but now we have the opportunity to remind them that preventive care is a priority, too. And although your awareness efforts should be year-round, Breast Cancer Awareness Month is the perfect time to get started on building those connections.
If you’re looking for more ideas on a unique approach to Breast Cancer Awareness Month messaging, we’ve got plenty to share.