ALRC strategically prepares and executes a PR plan to educate Joni Eareckson Tada supporters of her cancer diagnosis.
As the Agency of Record for Joni and Friends International Disability Center (JAF), A. Larry Ross Communications (ALRC) has assisted in JAF’s goal of becoming more than a disability ministry, to encompass a ministry of education and encouragement for Christians to engage in advocacy on myriad value-of-life issues, such as stem cell research and euthanasia. In addition, while Joni Eareckson Tada remains the founder of the ministry, JAF wants to communicate media availability of several spokespersons and expert resources available to media to respond on issues and represent the organization in the media.
During the midst of this campaign came Joni Eareckson Tada’s surprising breast cancer diagnosis. Knowing the attention and concern this would generate, ALRC and JAF were able to plan in advance how best to make the announcement and message to maintain balance of appropriate concern for Joni’s health, and confidence in the ministry to carry on while she received treatment.
As soon as the diagnosis was received, ALRC and JAF began drafting messages and planning for how and when to release the news. It was determined it would not be released until definitive information was available, so as not to cause any undue panic or rumors among supporters of Joni and the ministry. Input was solicited from Joni’s physicians so that the reports were accurate and realistic, and the public could be assured Joni’s unique health situation was being taken into account. Joni was also transparent during this time, using it as an opportunity to encourage other women in all walks of life to get regular health exams.
Because of the advance planning, ALRC was able to release the news to all outlets appropriately and simultaneously, generating a significant amount of coverage, even among mainstream outlets. More importantly, the coverage was accurate in its reporting and hopeful in its tone. This became an opportunity for other JAF spokespersons to speak out on Joni’s behalf, and opened a pipeline for regular updates for media who covered the situation from diagnosis to Joni’s recovery and return to full-time ministry. The Agency also continued to represent the ministry’s multiple outreaches and mission of Christian engagement, communicating the ministry’s strength, impact and future growth even if something should happen to its founder.