• 47 National Media Hits

  • 25% Increase in Website Traffic

  • 77M+ Audience Impressions

I think we will see an increase over the next months for sure in genetic testing for breast cancer. But what’s important to know is that it’s not appropriate to test everybody.
— Rebecca Nagy, National Society of Genetic Counselors president, in TIME magazine


When Academy Award-winning actress Angelina Jolie wrote an op-ed in The New York Times in May 2013 about her double mastectomy, her story launched a national discussion about how genetics and family history influence breast cancer risk.

In her op-ed, Jolie explained that by having a double mastectomy, she significantly reduced her risk of breast cancer, and she encouraged women to be tested for a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation.

Not every woman needs testing though, and surgery is not always the right choice even when a woman does test positive. The National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) needed help clarifying this message and demonstrating their value as genetic counselors around the country braced for an increase in women requesting genetic testing. 



On May 14, 2013, at 6:45 a.m., upon discovering Jolie’s op-ed posted to The New York Times website, our team raced to the office.   

We retrieved our already-approved expert alert for NSGC’s cancer experts, and leveraged our breast cancer-related consumer messages, along with Jolie’s announcement, for a day-of-news media pitch. We developed a list of targeted national consumer health reporters and distributed the pitch within hours of the op-ed publishing. 


Almost immediately, we received interview requests and began filling our spokespersons’ schedules for the day.

But we didn’t stop there. Throughout the day, we monitored coverage and social media posts, sending follow-up pitches to reporters working feverishly on an unfolding national headline.

Our rapid response resulted in immediate coverage and quickly began to influence the conversation.

But that’s not all.

Media coverage spilled over into June and also led to subsequent opportunities to inform the public during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, with many of our national contacts requesting follow-up stories.

Our efforts resulted in 47 original national placements with pick-up in more than 150 local news outlets reaching an audience of more than 77 million. Visits to NSGC’s “Find a Genetic Counselor” tool on jumped 25 percent from April to May. 

Women — and men — who think they are candidates for genetic testing should first discuss their family histories with their physicians. If testing might be appropriate, the next step is an appointment with a genetic counselor.
— Rebecca Nagy, National Society of Genetic Counselors president, in USA Today



Message development

Spokesperson training

Expert positioning

Development of standby media materials

Coordinating national media outreach

Ongoing media list development and relationship building

The top national health reporters we worked with continue to look to us and the National Society of Genetic Counselors as expert resources for new topics and stories.

Genetic counselors see additional value in being an NSGC member because of the society’s ability to raise awareness with consumers and healthcare providers.

And, our peers in the industry recognized the value of the campaign. It won “best of the best” for all Chicago-area PR programs in 2014, and was awarded the highly coveted PRSA Chicago Best of Skylines Award.