Cover Story: Cancer Survivors Pay It Forward
A patient's point of view is invaluable, but can present a challenge. When a patient is speaking to patients, for instance, privacy laws mean messages can't specifically say the recipient receives healthcare from City of Hope.
"There were certain artful ways of phrasing to allude to a common experience," Chapman says, "in the second-person plural, 'we' language, starting with the patient standpoint, from the signer, and then talking about how 'we,' speaking for patients—though never specifically stating that the recipient was a patient."
Still, having Gearhart-Pash talk to "Amanda" or any other patient is far more personalized and worth the effort, they say.
"It's very important to capture the essence of what the person is saying and the experiences that she or he has and how they relate to City of Hope," Chapman says. " … In this case, she had a very visceral way of expressing it for other patients. I mean, without talking to her first, we could not capture that and be able to convey that, without it sounding completely false to other patients."
Hope Comes in Small Packages—And Emails
Holiday wishes began arriving for the first patient audience segment in late November 2012. First in the form of a direct mail test, then in two mail drops.
Finally, a light blue e-card adorned with a peace dove arrived in inboxes on Sunday, Dec. 6, 2012.
"May your holiday season be filled with warmth, joy and hope," reads its headline.
That first email didn't ask for money, but some gave, anyway. If recipients clicked on the card, it led them to a donation landing page.
Of the 5,739 e-card recipients, 33 percent opened the message and 0.4 percent clicked through. As former patients gave or unsubscribed, City of Hope removed them from subsequent mailings—making the sends of Gearhart-Pash's letters reach 5,311 and 5,191 members of the patient audience, respectively.