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Hard Word. Harder Disease.

Campaign brings together international scleroderma organizations to spread awareness.

Hard Word PledgeJune is designated Scleroderma Awareness Month in the United States and around the world. This year, the Scleroderma Foundation teamed up with major Nor th American scleroderma organizations to develop an awareness campaign that would let others know about the disease and our cause. Our first-ever partnership with the Scleroderma Research Foundation and the Scleroderma Society of Canada enabled us to enlist the help of members in the U.S. and Canada to share educational messages with people near and far.

The campaign was based on the idea, “Hard Word. Harder Disease.” This theme acknowledged difficult obstacles we encounter when talking about the disease, such as pronunciation (hard), tissue condition (hard), and the many manifestations of the disease (harder). This imagery opened the door for sharing simple messages that describe what patients deals with and who can be affected by scleroderma.

The campaign used various channels to get the message out, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. A special microsite ( was also created to serve as a landing page for the campaign. The website asks visitors to help spread awareness by signing a pledge of support and directs them to the three partner organization’s websites.

Times Square billboardAdditional campaign elements included a widely distributed news release, which was picked up by major news outlets. Along with alerting the media, we shared the message at one of the busiest places in North America, the digital billboard on 42nd Street in Times Square in New York City, shown left. The campaign ran from June 5 through July 15. While response was slow at first, media coverage and almost daily Facebook and Twitter posts helped to engage people. On World Scleroderma Day (June 29) and the following day, almost 2,000 people visited the microsite, and Facebook messages were viewed 350,000 times.

We believe that the campaign was a success. Through the thousands of impressions gained from the digital billboard, more than one million views from Facebook posts and many more from other social media outlets, the campaign met a receptive audience and garnered positive feedback from people around the country. A goal of the campaign was to use our network to extend knowledge and to invite others to learn about scleroderma. Through this campaign, we found new friends in the U.S. and Canada, plus many other countries around the world.

Based on this success, we plan to launch a follow-up campaign. We believe that the partnership between the Scleroderma Society of Canada, the Scleroderma Research Foundation and the Scleroderma Foundation is a positive step that makes us stronger as we seek to inform people about this “Harder Disease.”

Jay Peak is the executive director of the Scleroderma Foundation's Tri-State Chapter.


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