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(Editor's Note: The following was sent by staff at the California Institute for Regenerative

Medicine to its board of directors at the beginning of 2010. The report was provided by CIRM to
the California Stem Cell Report – californiastemcellreport.blogspot.com -- at the request of the
CSCR. A discussion of communication issues at the stem cell agency can be found on the CSCR
Web site.)

December 2009

Communications at CIRM

CIRM’s Communications Office under went a major makeover in early 2008 when Don
Gibbons arrived to take on the role of Chief Communications Officer. In the Fall of 2008
two more staff were hired to support Don’s efforts. Amy Adams assumed the task of
creating content for, and maintaining, a first-for-CIRM consumer web site and Todd
Dubnicoff was hired to create the video “productions” that now appear on CIRM’s web
site and YouTube channel. This is a very effective and productive team that has
accomplished a great deal in the year that they have worked together. Further this
small group is charged with a big task – to keep CIRM’s profile high and educate and
inform the public about the Institute’s programs and accomplishments.

Activities during the past 18 months


Direct Public Outreach
• The Annual Report for 2008 was a big improvement compared to the previous
year. It was so popular that demand required that it be reprinted three times.
There were three Town Forums in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.
They attracted about 700 members of the public and about 10 million saw the
advertisements for these public lectures.
Stem Cell Awareness Day grew enormously in its second year as a CIRM-driven
initiative. Last year it was recognized in California and the State of Victoria,
Australia. This year another country and four states were added along with a
poetry contest that attracted entries from around the world. In California alone
where CIRM organized stem cell scientists to visit schools, talks were given to
about 5,000 students and another 260,000 heard about stem cells through the
media.

Media Analysis – Fleishman-Hillard is a global public relations and marketing company


that works with CIRM. They were asked recently to assess CIRM’s media exposure.
This analysis revealed that:
• Overall, there were 1,233 articles appearing in various media mentioning CIRM
since December 5, 2007. Sixty percent of these articles were in consumer
press, the others in scientific and trade press.
• Positive editorials or opinion pieces appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle
(two), the LA Times, the San Diego Union Tribune, the San Jose Mercury and
the Sacramento Bee
CIRM was the cover story in an issue of the San Francisco Biz Times
Three “Top-of-the-Page” articles about CIRM appeared in the NY Times and

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another was in the Wall St Journal.
During the days around President Obama’s decision to lift the stem cell ban,
CIRM’s voice got into 63 print and 75 broadcast stories.
Press coverage of CIRM’s recent Disease Teams competition resulted in 35
news stories.
CIRM organized a special seminar designed to educate science writers about
stem cells in conjunction with the most recent grantees meeting (2008) and it
was attended by 50 writers.
Fleishman-Hillard did an analysis of CIRM’s “media volume share” over the past
1.5 years by comparing it to coverage of the Maryland Stem Cell Fund. The
relative shares were:
o CIRM - 92%
Maryland Stem Cell Fund - 8%

At the conclusion of its report Fleishman-Hillard offered the following (the full report is
available) –
“Overall, the quality of media coverage over the last two years has improved in
comparison to that of previous years – specifically with regard to tone. Not only has
CIRM continued to expand its communications efforts with media but the recent federal
support of stem cell research has elevated awareness of this innovative space, enabling
CIRM to further establish its role as a driver of research and expert resource for media
and the public. Consequently, key national and regional media have taken notice and
featured CIRM in a significant amount of coverage on the topic. As CIRM continues to
proactively communicate and engage the media and public, CIRM will likely see a
continued increase in share-of-voice and general quality of coverage.”

Web site – In the Spring of 2009, CIRM rolled out a new web site that was designed
specifically to provide easy access for its different user groups, including researchers
and the general public. This web site is orders of magnitude superior to the previous
site and its effectiveness is evidenced by the frequency in which it is accessed. As a
relative measure of this increase, the number of “hits” per month on the old site was
about 500,000 in 2008. Currently it is over 2,000,000.

Generally “hits” are no longer used as a measure of web site effectiveness. Instead
analysts now focus on “visits” and “length-of-stay”. CIRM is currently attracting about
15,000 unique visits per month and the length of time that visitors stay is considerably
longer than average. By contrast, JDRF with its national presence and massive
grassroots activity averages just 92,000 unique visitors a month.

Other findings about the web site include:


• On the “quality scale” provided by Google Analytics CIRM’s website scores 7
of 10 (10 is best). 5 is considered very good.
Visitors to the web site include researchers and the general public with, with the
public representing a greater portion of visits.
The top 100 providers of access to CIRM’s website, which represent 60% of all
visitors:

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o CIRM employees: 7%
CIRM grantee institutions: 15%
Home networks: 38%
• People on home networks (e.g. Comcast) are more likely to view pages
intended to educate the public about stem cells and CIRM’s progress,
suggesting that the majority of visits by people on the top network providers
are members of the public learning about the organizations.
54 percent of visitors are from California.
People spend an average of three and a half minutes on the site, more than
twice the minute and a half that is generally considered good.

In addition to its web page CIRM interfaces with the public through YouTube, Facebook
and Flickr.
• The YouTube channel now has 25 videos that have been viewed 32,000
times and they are rated by YouTube as being above average in terms of
holding the viewer’s attention.
The Facebook page has attracted 300 fans. Facebook rates its pages by
comparing activity with other pages with a similar number of fans. CIRM gets 5
stars – the highest possible.
CIRM has posted pictures and micrographs from grantees (with their permission)
on Flickr. 54 images have been posted. They are viewed about 250 times per
day and have been used in articles in Science, Reuters, The Scientist, New
Scientist, Nature and ABC’s local affiliate.
CIRM’s overall electronic presence gets 150,000 visits a month.

Other education efforts

CIRM posts an electronic Monthly Digest, which summarizes activities for that month –
new RFAs, new grants awarded, events, press releases and new videos. It goes to
subscribers and is sent to legislators (32% of recipients open the Digest, compared to
and average of 25% for government communications). It also goes to some 50 leaders
of patient advocacy groups in California

The Communications Office helped get stem cells into the CA HS science curriculum
and has been developing on-line tools for teachers. Later this month four full classroom
modules will be posted on a new “teachers” page on the CIRM website.

Near-term Plans – Projects in progress include:


• The Communications Office has been developing a slide deck on CIRM’s
accomplishments to be used by ICOC members and staff for communicating
with various types of opinion leaders – e.g. legislators, other government
officials and members of Chambers of Commerce and Disease Advocacy
groups.
A related slide deck is planned for the broader patient advocate community.
On-going efforts will soon allow web site visitors to search grant lists by
“disease”.

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Plans were formulated last month to implement a coordinated effort to publicize
CIRM’s progress by highlighting the potential of different disease teams. The
plan is to tailor stories for each market using patients to create feature coverage.
• Developing a communication training workshop for grantees prior to grantee
meeting.
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