Valley Cities Behavioral Health

Valley Cities Behavioral Health “Living With” Campaign

Message Development | Creative Campaign Development | Design

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The Situation

Mental illness, chemical use, and homelessness are pressing topics for our community. Valley Cities, the largest provider of behavioral health services in South King County, came to Team Soapbox with an ambitious challenge. Their goal was to change the conversation about mental health and substance abuse from one of fear, discrimination and stigma to one of compassion, understanding and support, and to show there are solutions that make a difference in communities and people’s lives. They also wanted to position Valley Cities as a strategic organization with the expertise and experience to make an impact on individuals’ lives and in the region.

Team Soapbox was tasked with developing a communications plan to target people in the Puget Sound area who may have negative perceptions of individuals dealing with mental illness and substance use but are receptive to reason. A secondary audience was King County officials and state legislators who can influence public opinion and support future funding needs.

The Approach

We started with a research and discovery process which included conducting a media audit to understand what messages were showing up consistently in coverage and what stories were not being told. This informed our media and marketing strategy to include stories of hope and resiliency (to counteract the fear and misunderstanding and negative portrayals of people with mental illness and substance use).

Message development was next, as it was critical not only to have simple language available to describe Valley Cities' services, but also to educate the community as to how bad the epidemic really is (and in turn, what Valley Cities’ role is in addressing the problem). This was followed by story gathering and interviewing individuals who received services from Valley Cities. We used these stories later for media pitches.

We developed an overarching communications plan to address the main goals of the campaign, as well as site-specific plans to support the opening of new facilities across King County with tailored, location-based outreach. We introduced positive messages about mental illness and what possibilities exist with treatment by placing ads in targeted media outlets in Valley Cities’ core South King County markets. We ran print and online ads in the Waterland Blog, Renton Reporter, Auburn Reporter, and Kent Reporter as well as Facebook.

The Results

Team Soapbox elevated the awareness of Valley Cities’ expertise as a leader in providing behavioral health services in South King County. In the first six months of engagement, we placed eight media stories in outlets including the Auburn Reporter, Federal Way Mirror, Kent Reporter, Puget Sound Business Journal, Waterland Blog and KUOW.

We developed a set of key messages on the issues of chemical use and mental health as well as language specific to the work of Valley Cities. As a result, language is becoming more consistent through all communications vehicles, and a more clear and intentional story of the issues is being told

The 10-week paid media campaign received 1,733,646 impressions, generated online discussion about the issues, and Facebook likes increased by 26%. April was also the busiest month for new clients (and we like to think that’s no coincidence given our marketing during that time frame).

This campaign was recognized with a PRSA Totem award in 2017.