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An important element of nonprofit storytelling is a creative media relations strategy – finding that unique angle to share impactful stories.

While Franco is known for integrated communications strategy and is a firm advocate of the PESO Model, we know each channel offers its own unique strengths. Representing the ‘E’ in the PESO Model, earned media is a valuable tactic for creating new opportunities to tell your story through a third party, including journalists, influencers and more. The creativity of your story helps win the attention of media, while the credibility of the writer boosts your message, increasing your voice and visibility. We put our decades of media relations experience to work for client Hospice of Michigan’s World AIDS Day campaign.

In 1987, Hospice of Michigan (then Hospice of Greater Grand Rapids) was among the first organizations to treat patients with HIV/AIDS. Since the AIDS crisis reflects some of what we’re seeing with COVID-19 – fear, uncertainty and tragic death – the Franco team devised an earned media plan to highlight the connection between hospice care and World AIDS Day on December 1. World AIDS Day was the first-ever global health day. It was founded in 1988 to unite people in the fight against HIV, support those living with HIV and honor those who have died from an AIDS-related illness.


Our challenge was to educate the community about Hospice of Michigan’s efforts during the AIDS crisis. Though the nonprofit has deep roots in the community, people were not aware that hospice workers were some of the first to treat patients with HIV/AIDS. Our goal was to secure media placements to open a dialogue about what it was like during the early years of HIV/AIDS.


The Franco team executed a media relations campaign in west Michigan, relying on established relationships to gauge interest from local reporters. Franco identified a knowledgeable spokesperson from Hospice of Michigan who worked with HIV/AIDS patients, provided education to hospices and public health departments across Michigan and encouraged the community to overcome their fear and serve this population. Rather than formalizing the information into a press release, the team chose a quality-over-quantity approach, drafting a personalized media pitch to communicate her story in her words in the hopes of connecting her with interested local media.


Franco secured virtual interviews on all three major television stations in west Michigan – Fox 17, WOOD-TV and WZZM-TV – generating a total potential audience reach of nearly 1.3 million.

Coverage reach expanded on social media when we shared the Fox 17 article on Hospice of Michigan’s Facebook page, where it earned 227 engagements, 43 reactions, 13 shares and seven comments.

Equally important, our contacts at Hospice of Michigan loved the conversations that came from our media relations efforts. Hospice of Michigan was thrilled to connect the dots between its mission to serve every person, every time during the early years of the AIDS crisis.