Tulsa Public Relations Case Study: Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Background.

Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Tulsa is part of CTCA’s national network of cancer hospitals and community oncology treatment centers in Illinois, Oklahoma, Washington and Pennsylvania. CTCA believes in an integrated approach to cancer care, blending conventional treatments such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy with complementary therapies such as nutrition, psychology and spirituality.

The issue.

The grand opening of CTCA’s new Tulsa hospital (and related events) in 2005 was an opportunity to communicate CTCA’s unique approach to cancer treatment. The biggest challenge involved repositioning/improving CTCA’s brand in the marketplace. CTCA’s Tulsa hospital first opened in 1990 in the former City of Faith at Oral Roberts University and was generally perceived by the public as an extension of ORU (which it is not). CTCA’s use of complementary therapies led many to believe that CTCA only treated cancer with alternative medicine (such as acupuncture and herbs.) These images and misperceptions overshadowed the realities of cancer treatment at CTCA in Tulsa.

The solution.

Waller & Company oversaw a comprehensive PR campaign to create increased awareness of CTCA and its new cancer hospital in south Tulsa. These efforts included developing and pitching stories to Tulsa area media (construction updates, unique architectural elements, the Images of Hope patient photo program and the grand opening week events and festivities), conducting media training for hospital spokespersons, and creating numerous media materials (media kits, news releases, fact sheets, etc.) for the grand opening celebration.

The award-winning campaign was deemed a success on all fronts. Media coverage of the grand opening far exceeded program goals, generating 83 overall media hits through the end of June. The media coverage also contributed to increased local and regional awareness of CTCA and the new hospital, as evidenced by the dramatic jump in CTCA’s patient census in the three months following the grand opening (compared to the same three-month span in 2004). More than 1,000 media, local VIPs, alumni and friends/family of patients attended opening week. An area research firm indicated that awareness of CTCA in the Tulsa area improved drastically. Just as telling were comments from a local surgeon working at another Tulsa hospital, who contacted his friend, a CTCA executive, to tell her how impressed he was with the grand opening campaign, saying that “we’re not only aware of you now, but aware that you are a threat.”

Waller continues to work year-round with CTCA as its media relations partner in the Tulsa market.