Beyond PR

Feb 14, 2014

Content We Love: CVS Caremark Stomps Out Cigarettes & Sparks a National Conversation

Click to view the entire multimedia news release

Click to view the entire multimedia news release

CVS Caremark recently dominated headlines when they announced a stunning decision to ban the sale of cigarettes in their stores. The bold move sparked a nationwide discussion on the role of pharmacies in providing healthcare to their customers and set a new standard for the industry. Now let’s be honest, a large corporation forgoing $2 billion dollars in profit for the sake of public health was bound to generate headlines. But what made this announcement so exceptional was CVS Caremark’s use of multimedia to frame their key messages, fuel social discussion, and deliver everything that journalists needed to cover the story.

In a article entitled, CVS Brilliantly Encouraged People to Share Its Tobacco Story, author Carmine Gallo says, “Brands that successfully get their message across make it easy for people to share the story across social media platforms.”  For these reasons and more, CVS Caremark’s news release is the subject of this week’s Content We Love.

Rich media fuels social buzz & message amplification

A snapshot of CVS trending on Twitter

A snapshot of CVS as the top trending topic on Twitter

The multimedia news release was a cornerstone of the campaign that enabled CVS Caremark to provide media, bloggers and the public with a variety of rich visuals including hi-res videos of CEO Larry Merlo’s official statement, b-roll footage of CVS stores, photos of the company’s corporate leaders, and infographics with the stats to support their decision.

“Blogs need pictures. People on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram want pictures, too.” Gallo stated in his article. “CVS provided this multimedia news release with videos clips and downloadable, high-resolution infographics and photographs to support the stories.”

These additional elements promptly addressed questions from the public head-on, allowing journalists the freedom to thoroughly develop every angle of this story and audiences to share the news on social channels with ease.

Distribution of content drives media coverage 

Media covering the story made direct use of the multimedia elements CVS Caremark supplied in their press release. The included B-roll footage was featured in breaking news stories by top broadcast media outlets such as CNN

and CBS News. The video statement from the CEO was directly embedded or redisplayed in online stories from high-traffic outlets like the New York Daily News and Bloomberg BusinessWeek. A simple Google search shows that these are just a few out of the hundreds of media outlets to pick up this story.

By distributing visual assets, CVS benefitted from:

  • Quality earned media
  • High engagement on social media channels
  • Top ranking on search engines

One of the most critical aspects of a brand attempting to establish credibility with the public is acknowledgement from fellow thought-leaders within the industry. CVS Caremark’s announcement drew applause from health advocate organizations like the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society, and the Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association, who each released statements to thank the company for their groundbreaking decision.  But perhaps the highest honor a brand can receive is praise from both the President and First Lady. President Barack Obama released a statement saying that the new policy “will have a profoundly positive impact on the health of our country,” and First Lady Michelle Obama tweeted her support. With such a warm reception by the public, CVS was able to successfully reposition the brand as a trustworthy authority in healthcare.

According to Gallo, “Communication doesn’t have to be complicated. People are talking about CVS because the brand made it easy for them to do so.” CVS Caremark “put on a case study of how to get news spread”  and demonstrated  a thorough understanding of today’s new media environment- one that is multifaceted and driven by compelling stories told through rich visuals. Congratulations to CVS Caremark on the success of their outstanding campaign.

Author Shannon Ramlochan is the Content Marketing Coordinator at PR Newswire. Follow her on Twitter @sramloch

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