Vocare

Communication strategy, press office, and crisis management

10 million reasons to succeed

Vocare provides urgent care services to over 10 million UK patients.

It runs urgent care and GP out-of-hours centres across the UK, as well as the NHS 111 service.

After a period of rapid growth, it required Admiral’s support in overcoming a number of challenges.

Having started out in the North East of England, it had expanded into Yorkshire, Staffordshire, Leicestershire, the South West and London.

Several new challenges emerged including:

  • Pressure to recruit enough GPs to facilitate growth
  • The heightened threat of issues or crises arising with the increase in numbers of patients using its services
  • Promoting its corporate brand to potential investors, while also building awareness of regional services to the general public

Our mission

Admiral was appointed to:

  • Strategically advise on protecting and promoting Vocare’s corporate brand
  • Minimise the impact and reach of negative issues and crises
  • Support a major recruitment drive to double GP numbers
  • Manage relations with various stakeholder groups
  • Target patients with marketing campaigns
  • Manage social media output

Strategy

When providing healthcare services to 10 million patients UK wide, some of whom are very sick, there is a tendency for the PR approach to focus entirely on risk management. While Admiral did provide robust issues management support 24/7, we also strongly encouraged Vocare to balance this with a proactive PR approach to getting positive ‘feel-good’ stories in the media.

We set about identifying feel good stories from centres around the country through an internal engagement programme. The best of these stories were then fed to local news programme, specifically local TV.

We also ran various campaigns linked to wider NHS campaign such as Choose Well and Christmas planning to support operations at busier times of year.

We also launched a specific thought leadership strand of activity around supporting the company’s recruitment of doctors.

Results

  • Over 300 GPs recruited in six months at a cost of just £17 per appointment – significantly lower than traditional recruitment methods
  • In over 80% of cases, Admiral kept negative stories from reaching the press by liaising closely with stakeholders and media
  • Vocare’s corporate brand was not once mentioned in the press in relation to any negative stories
  • As a ‘learning organisation’, Vocare was able to improve strategies and structures after each crisis threat following advice from Admiral
  • Vocare’s ‘opportunities to see’ doubled within six months of Admiral’s intervention, both for the corporate brand and the local constituent ones
  • Traffic to Vocare’s website increased sharply after Admiral started the corporate campaign. Spikes in activity were identified after thought leadership pieces appeared in influential trade magazines

“Vocare operates in a high-risk environment. Admiral is a highly professional team of senior reputation experts that understand our space and can foresight and manage media risk. Their award-winning crisis communications support has been exemplary and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them.”

Chief executive – Vocare

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