PR Daily Award winner: Brand journalism on surgery separating conjoined twins stuns in annual report

It’s a winner in the “Annual Report” category of PR Daily’s Social Media & Digital Awards.

Formerly conjoined twins were featured in UC Davis' annual report.

The lead article of UC Davis Children’s Hospital’s 2019­-2020 digital annual report told a compelling story — a large multidisciplinary team from more than 30 pediatric subspecialties successfully separated nine-month-old conjoined twins. The two girls were born fused at the head, a condition that occurs approximately only once every 2.5 million births. Once they were separated, they were able to look at each for the first time.

The goal of the annual report, launched in February 2021, was to support the hospital’s reputation for specialty care and drive an increase in pediatric specialty referrals. The strategy centered around showcasing personal stories and highlighting UC Davis specialists when they were the first or only doctors to perform newsworthy and innovative research or treatments.



The public information officer identified and interviewed patients and families who had experienced lifesaving care; the writer compiled short articles for the report and collaborated with the public information officer to tell patient care stories and describe photos captured by the photographer.

The project had an additional challenge: building out the report website in-house instead of using a third-party vendor. The idea was to manage the process from start to finish, ensuring that the team was intimately familiar with the content.

The timeline was strict. To launch by early February 2021, the content had to be ready to go by the end of December 2020 so that it could be quickly implemented over the next 4 weeks.

To build out the website, an in-house digital team designed a template to showcase UC Davis’s signature publications. The team customized the template for the annual report, using a modern design to emphasize the copy and photographs. They had to make the template consistent with UC Davis’s overall brand style and also provide easy access to physician referral information via the navigation bar.

Once the report was launched, the marketing team shared it on internal communications channels and newsletters. On external channels, the report was targeted to reach referring physicians across the nation via a letter from UC Davis Children’s Hospital pediatrician in chief, who shared news about the twins’ separation along with a link to the full annual report.

The annual report helped drive a 20% increase in referrals to pediatric specialists.

Kudos to the team of Tricia Tomiyoshi, Michele Taber, Jennifer Jacobs, Emily Lilyla, Barbara Henelly, Brittany Collins, Cesar Cervantes and Davor Miksic.


One Response to “PR Daily Award winner: Brand journalism on surgery separating conjoined twins stuns in annual report”

    Ronald N Levy says:

    Health reports are exciting! A 20% increase in referrals was driven by media coverage on separating conjoined twins, a condition occurring once in 2.5 million births. Might a company get a 20% increase in sales from sponsoring research to reduce cancer that kills one in every four of us?

    Doctors keep getting closer to success against one of the most painful cancers, leukemia. A Columbia University professor, Dr. Azra Raza, may be the world’s top expert on MDS, a pre-leukemia for which three drugs are already successful and others are being studied.

    At the world’s top cancer hospital, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Dr. Prioty Islam works to fight leukemia amidst world-famous experts in vaccines (the center already has a limited-use cancer vaccine), hematology, radiation, drug therapy, nutrition, orthopedics, cardiology and other specialties.

    If a company announces funding a $100 million program of medical research to finally conquer MDS, or even a $50 million program spread over ten years, could this result in worldwide media coverage and public gratitude? If one of the doctors and your CEO head up a press briefing announcing the health push, would millions of Americans who’ve lost a relative to cancer be grateful to your company? Or perhaps 100 million grateful Americans plus millions more abroad?

    Would Washington political leaders oppose proposals that could reduce your company’s ability to keep funding the health push? Would your employees and dealers be proud? Would more top-of-the-class graduates send you resumes?

    In the announcement briefing the doctors would thank your company
    sincerely for generosity, your CEO thanks the doctors for their brilliance and dedication since many work 60 hour weeks, and veteran nurses get intense public interest plus repeat TV broadcasts worldwide by telling ways to avoid cancers, and how spot them early enough for increased likelihood of cure.

    In an era when many companies are correctly faulted for being too self-seeking or even not giving a damn about the public, judge the PR consequences if you get a company recognized for trying to save millions of lives from cancer.

    PR often generates public approval but could an anti-cancer push get millions of people to actually PRAY for your company’s success?

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