The MS Research Trust

Taking an embryo charity and growing its profile to achieve recognition of its work, and supporting its development until truly established

Client

The MS Research Trust was established in 1993. Now called the MS Trust, it focuses upon those people already diagnosed as having MS and works to support them by funding research in disease management, providing positive and realistic information to people with MS and their carers and by setting up the MS Nurse Forum to provide a programme of education and information for nurses and health professionals. From the outset, the Trust was determined to work to provide every person with MS access to a specialist MS nurse in the NHS. When the Trust began, only a handful of such nurses existed.

Type

Retainer

Services

Copywriting, Design and print management, Event management, Media Relations, Planning and strategy, Profile definition & development, Proofreading, Public affairs, Stakeholder relations

Brief

Margaret Phillips was called in late in 1993 to advise the two founder members of the MS Research Trust and their two advisers about how best to raise the new charity’s profile.  In particular it needed to be differentiated from the other major MS charity which focused on research to find a cure for the disease. Once Margaret had set up her own consultancy, Phillips Profile, it took over the work with the Trust.

Result

Phillips Profile was able to offer an external perspective and put together a PR programme which addressed health professionals, the pharmaceutical industry and MS sufferers and their carers.  By 1997 the Trust had a newsletter, had identified its driving aim, was hosting regional study days for nurses with a special interest in MS, and was hosting its first national conference for health professionals. There was very little money available, so all print material was produced in just 2 colours, using the Trust’s blue and black for text. Presentations to grant-giving organisations were a route to funding, with a pragmatic approach adopted by the Trust towards pharmaceutical companies, at a time when they were largely considered unscrupulous by the medical hierarchy. The pharmaceuticals’ response was positive and not entirely cynical.

Phillips Profile was involved in every aspect of the programme from briefing the media and helping put together information sheets for MS sufferers to organising the regional study days and national conference, handling all the arrangements; compiling invitation lists; liaising with venues; managing poster presentations and working with speakers and the Trust to devise conference programmes.

We worked with the Trust for six years until the Trust’s increasing success made it possible for them to appoint a dedicated fundraiser and a development officer with a strong marketing background in the pharmaceutical industry.  Once the Trust had sufficient in-house expertise in place, Phillips Profile stepped back.

When the Trust first started there were fewer than 10 specialist nurses for MS in the UK; in 12 years that had risen to over 220, entirely due to the efforts of the Trust.  The Trust is going from strength to strength with key public figures as trustees and excellent feature coverage in the nationals on MS and famous people who live with it.