April 11, 2017


April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month. As a PR pro and a person with young-onset Parkinson’s disease, I’m always watching how various Parkinson’s organizations spread the word.

The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation and strategically leverage community engagement to create instant ambassadors.

Awareness booster: The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation goes beyond benefit events and fundraising calls to action. A downloadable guide titled “YOU Can Make a Difference” encourages people to help raise awareness. It offers steps anyone can follow to:

  • Build displays and booths for libraries and events
  • Partner with health care providers to share information about life with Parkinson’s and available resources
  • Write and submit event listings, press releases, letters to the editor and public service announcements
  • Craft social media posts
  • Engage elected officials
To support these efforts, the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation also makes available social media graphics, posters, T-shirts, wristbands and more.

People get involved in efforts like this because they feel an emotional connection to the cause. “Parkinson’s people” and those close to them can feel helpless regarding the physical effects of the degenerative neurological disease. Many are eager to do something helpful. Creating an opportunity to contribute to raising awareness or achieving a specific goal fills a void.

SoMe star: champions a global effort to mark April 11 as the birthday of Dr. James Parkinson and 2017 as the 200th anniversary of Parkinson’s disease being recognized as a health condition.

  • The hashtag #UniteForParkinsons is intended to “bring the whole global Parkinson's community together … we can spread the same message on one day all over the world.”
  • A visually appealing downloadable toolkit—available in six languages—includes:
    • Key messages 
    • Social media content suggestions
    • Offline activities
    • FAQs
These two examples stand out among a plethora of Parkinson’s events, statistics and fundraising asks. In both cases, instant ambassadors extend the reach of the message, like ripples in a pond. Downloadable tools provide a consistent approach and how-tos for those who are not communications pros. Creating resources helps ambassadors speak with the same voice.

How do you strategically promote your cause? Tweet us at @JayRayAdsPR