There are few things more emotional than a life-threatening disease. As two breast cancer charities came together, we were called in to work on their voice. How is cancer framed by rival charities? How do women with breast cancer talk about their illness? And how should Breast Cancer Now speak to connect emotionally to their thinking and feelings?
Cancer charities, driven by the behemoth that is Cancer Research, believe cancer is a battle. It’s easy to see why, because inside the body that may be true. But women with breast cancer feel very differently. After measuring the content of 13 year’s worth of blogs we knew exactly how differently. Without even asking any questions we quantified their emotional triggers and metaphoric persuasion frames. All we did was get Bob, our word-geek robot, to listen deeply to 13 woman-year’s of blogs of women living (and tragically some dying) with breast cancer.
Their thinking was framed around movement and forces. They need to ‘keep going’, appointments need to be ‘swift’ and their illness ‘slows them down’. The ‘impact’ of the disease ‘hits their families hard’. This changed the way Breast Cancer Now thought and spoke. You don’t help them ‘beat cancer’. You help them ‘find a faster cure’ and ‘reduce the impact’ of the disease. That’s made many women feel a whole lot better. And we saved two years of uncomfortable culture change by aligning the new charity’s thinking from day one.