Just when we were all thinking that publicity was a spent force on the communications front, along comes a project that proves that this channel has teeth – and very sharp teeth at that – and continues to remain a very powerful force for change.

I was recently asked to assist a client in the health space raise awareness about pelvic mesh implants and encourage women to complete major research it was doing in this regard. This research would be used to inform the client’s submission to a major Senate Inquiry which is now underway.

Pelvic mesh has long been used to treat women with prolapse and severe incontinence. While it has been seen by the medical fraternity as having ‘revolutionised’ surgical options for women with these problems, increasingly more and  more women have been coming forward with terrible side-effects such as vaginal erosion, excruciating abdominal pain, difficulty walking and painful sex. For many, their lives had been severely curtailed, if not ruined.

Mesh was clearly a problem that had been swept under the carpet for far too long and had to be effectively dealt with.

Because no public record exists on pelvic mesh implants and no-one really knows how many have suffered side effects, getting an idea of numbers was absolutely crucial.

Initially my client used boosted social media posts to reach out to women and invite them to complete the research and once the numbers really started piling up, I began reaching out to the media.

A wonderful segment on Radio National’s Life Matters program early in the publicity campaign proved to be the catalyst for further media interest with ABC TV and News 24 giving it extensive coverage. This was then followed by considerable coverage on radio stations and newspapers across Australia. Magazine Marie Claire is also running on series on the issue.

Publicity continues and undoubtedly will do so given the high level of interest in the issue.

Close on 2,000 women have now come forward and completed my client’s research and numbers continue to mount daily.

In addition to driving people to our research, publicity has also done a brilliant job of educating women and warning them of the potential side effects of mesh implants and the need to be properly informed before unwittingly going ahead and having a procedure.

Most importantly it has got the very institutions that are there to protect the safety of Australians finally sitting up and taking note.

So if any of you are thinking of completely turning your backs on publicity as a powerful channel for change, think again!

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