To the late John Kanzius, the Erie inventor who used radio waves to create an alternative way to treat cancer – without side effects.
To PAPA Inc, the Erie advertising agency that helped secure a $250,000 Pepsi Refresh grant and national recognition for Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation in just 30 days.
Thirst for something different
Since 1990, PAPA Advertising has helped businesses and organizations succeed by understanding their marketing challenges and developing the strategies, messages and materials to invigorate their efforts.
“We are not an ad agency, per se,” said Skip Papa, principal and creative director who founded the firm, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in May. Instead, PAPA views itself as something smarter – a partner who understands the clients’ business.
In early 2010, major corporations like Pepsi Co. were stepping away from traditional ads, said Mike Smiley, vice president. Instead they looked at their relationships with customers and where they could add value.
To do so, Pepsi launched the Refresh Project, a ground-breaking initiative to foster innovation and social goodwill around the world. As part of the project, Pepsi awards $1.3 million each month in amounts ranging from $5,000 to $250,000 to top vote-getting projects.
“We thought the Pepsi Refresh project was a great fit for Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation,”
By March 1, the application for the $250,000 Refresh grant was submitted to Pepsi. One month later, in the early morning hours of April 1, the team received word that the application was accepted. The 30-day quest to get the most votes in the nation on RefreshEverything.com had begun.
Pouring it on
To yield votes and elevate national awareness of the Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation, PAPA created a robust campaign, converging traditional public relations strategies with social media communications, website marketing and paid search advertisements.
“This opportunity had our creative juices flowing,” Smiley said. And with KCRF in 30th place, the team – which ranged in age from 23 to 52 – all felt the urgency and the excitement.
“We needed people to vote every day and we needed to find a way to maintain the enthusiasm throughout the month,” he said.
Through traditional public relations, PAPA was able to garner more than 20 print and online news articles and almost daily coverage by local TV.
Daily social media posts took Kanzius’ Facebook fan page from 200 to 5,000 fans during the month of April, while nearly 9,000 viewed pages on the Kanzius website.
Spreading the wave
Next PAPA created a virtual toolkit to enable local colleges, employers, health care and community organizations to easily “spread the wave.” It included a link to vote on Refresheverything.com, flyer, invitation to join Kanzius’ Facebook fan page as well as links to a video of John Kanzius’ vision and public service announcements that explained the history, technology and vision of Kanzius Cancer Research.
“I was shocked by how many of my friends were interested in the Kanzius cause and had such close ties with cancer,” said Toni Malena, a graphic designer who created the Facebook fan page and all the related artwork.
When the Foundation created a public service announcement, “Conor Hates Cancer”, PAPA coordinated its national distribution and created www.helpconor.com. When Conor and his mother traveled to New York City to promote Kanzius, PAPA leveraged local social media by sharing the message with 28 local cancer support organizations.
Shortly thereafter, Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation rocketed into first place.
Realizing the power of partnerships with other organizations – both in the community and in the Refresh competition itself – was a defining moment, said Kristen Smiley, who headed up the social media output.
“I believe this broadening of support definitely helped in the outcome of the contest,” said Smiley who sought out strategic partnerships with like-minded causes in the Refresh contest to gain additional votes.
Social media offers nonprofit groups the opportunity to connect with potential supporters, volunteers, and donors where they are and on their own terms, said Peter Panepento, web editor for philanthropy.com, the Web site for the Chronicle of Philanthropy in Washington D.C.
“I’ve seen some very powerful examples of charities that have literally rallied thousands of people to spread their message and open up their pocketbooks through social networks,” he said. “The Kanzius effort is a great local example of how this can work.”
Strategy that clicks
In just a few clicks email marketing delivered daily reminders to thousands of faithful Kanzius supporters while Google and Facebook’s paid search feature helped bring people with an interest in cancer to www.kanziuscancerresearch.org.
“Email marketing is one of the most cost effective ways to spread the word if you have a good list, and we did,” said Jason Keller, director of interactive media. “We had an average open rate around 55 percent; the industry average for nonprofits is only 19.5.
During the final week, PAPA coordinated a daily campaign to maintain local and national attention, including Vote KCRF Day, College Day, Vote KCRF for a Healthier Community and Vote KCRF Rally complete with laptops/WIFI where participants could instantly cast their vote.
“We knew it could work, we believed in what we were doing and stuck with it to the end…and when I say the end, we were sending email blasts up to the last hour to remind people to vote,” Keller said.
And Keller, who put in nearly 80 hours of his own time to answer questions about how to vote, wasn’t alone. Each member of the team felt compelled, spreading the wave from home into the wee hours of the night.
“It was that electric energy of the group all working toward a common goal,” Kristen Smiley explained.
Kanzius held first place through April 30 and received the $250,000 Refresh grant. What’s more, the initiative inspired a private donor to match the grant, bringing the total to $500,000.
And that’s just the beginning of what Kanzius could reap as a result of the exposure, Panepento said.
“Winning this contest gives the foundation an incredible amount of visibility…and it helped the group form relationships with thousands who might not have previously known about its work,” he said. “In the long term, those relationships have the potential to be much more powerful than winning the contest itself. These supporters can be mobilized for future fund-raising and advocacy efforts – and can be tapped into as potential donors and volunteers.”
Not bad for a month’s work.
John Kanzius, a radio/television engineer and broadcast owner from Erie, believed there must be a better way to treat cancer.
While undergoing treatment for his own cancer, Kanzius developed an alternative, non-invasive treatment for cancer.
Unfortunately, Kanzius lost his battle with cancer in 2009.
However, his idea – using radio waves to destroy cancer cells without harmful side effects – is being developed today by researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
The Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation is a 501©(3) non-profit organization that provides funding for the ongoing research of the Kanzius Radiowave Non-invasive Cancer Treatment.
Seven forms of cancer are currently undergoing extensive research in Foundation-funded laboratories in Houston and Pittsburgh using the sophisticated radio transmission equipment invented by Kanzius.
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Serving clients throughout the United States and Canada, PAPA Inc. provides results-oriented, converged marketing solutions, including advertising, brand development, media planning, public relations and web marketing. Learn more at www.PAPAadvertising.com