Beginning in March 2016, Communiqué PR began a partnership with A Place for Mom (APFM) to support PR efforts around a series of research findings, tools, and quarterly reports in development by the senior living referral service. The data-focused program centers on providing information about national and regional senior living trends to consumers, using state-of-the-art statistical methods and APFM’s massive database of senior housing referrals so families can better prepare for senior living. This includes senior-focused information on the housing market, senior living costs, multi-cultural considerations, and LGBT issues within senior communities. We were excited and grateful to provide strategic PR guidance for the program and understood it presents an excellent opportunity to drive media attention for APFM’s services.
As a bit of background, APFM is America’s largest senior living referral service, with more than 400 senior living advisors providing resources and personalized assistance in finding senior living options. APFM works with a nationwide network of more than 17,000 providers to help families find options based on a loved one’s stated needs, preferences and budget. This may include independent senior housing, home care, residential care homes, assisted living communities and specialized Alzheimer’s memory care.
National Senior Cost Index
As the first part of the quarterly data series, APFM released new findings from its National Senior Living Cost Index highlighting costs for three primary senior living categories in the U.S.: Independent Living, Assisted Living and Memory Care. The data indicates a 2.7 percent increase in annual costs in the U.S. across the three primary senior living categories. This means seniors are paying $99 more per month toward senior living compared to 2014, with people living in southern states ($125/month) and western states ($90/month) facing the greatest increase in growth (4 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively).
With that said, it’s important to note that although the median cost of senior living is on the rise, it is still well below the median growth rate of the national housing market from 2014 to 2015 (7 percent). The data also indicate that seniors are waiting longer to move into senior living, and people aged 84 or older making the transition increased by 3 percent between 2013 and 2015. This fact creates higher acuity needs once seniors make the move, resulting in greater general spending by the consumer.
One unique and helpful finding unveiled along with the National Senior Living Cost Index is APFM’s new, interactive senior living planning tool. Hosted on APFM’s website, the new tool allows families to map and rank senior living costs by county, state and region, as well as to see year-over-year and multi-year trends in senior living costs. There are no other such planning tools available to consumers, making it a truly one-of-a-kind resource to help people and families plan for senior care.
The data used in the planning tool and Senior Living Cost Index is based on actual rent and care charges collected from referred family move-ins to APFM partners. National and regional median costs and growth estimates are based on communities with at least one move-in for a given care type two years in a row. City, metro and state estimates are based on an econometric model of inflation-adjusted move-in charges (in 2015 dollars) during 2014 and 2015. Estimates in zip codes with few move-ins borrow information about costs from other zip codes with either similar median household income or geographic proximity.
Communiqué understood the news value of APFM’s National Senior Living Cost Index findings – journalists love hard numbers and data to validate what they are reporting. The findings also appealed to a wide audience and anyone residing in the U.S. could view the trends and results as helpful and interesting.
As a first step to prepare for media outreach, Communiqué meticulously audited recent coverage around senior care to understand what outlets and reporters cover the topic. This included researching national, regional and local media, as well as the major trade publications associated with senior care. Based on the findings, CPR identified “beat” reporters whose main job is to cover senior-related news and others who sometimes cover related senior topics and still represent good targets for media outreach.
Because the National Senior Living Cost Index story is only the first of four in the quarterly series, Communiqué recognized that many of the reporters identified would also be strong targets for the rest of the PR program. We knew building relationships with these reporters would prove critical in garnering ongoing media coverage throughout the year. This inspired the idea of sending personalized notes and care packages to key targets to let them know about the upcoming data series and ensure that APFM is top-of-mind if they are ever in need of an expert source for an article.
This tactic, along with a well-crafted pitch and a coordinated media outreach campaign, resulted in some incredible coverage for APFM. National, regional, local and trade media all covered the story, reaching millions of people and families with valuable information for them to consider when thinking about senior care. A few of the highlights include coverage from:
- The Next Avenue
- Philadelphia Business Journal
- Long-Term Living Magazine
- Senior Housing News
- McKnight’s Senior Living
Communiqué congratulates APFM for their commitment to providing valuable resources to help people plan for senior living and embarking on a yearlong journey to provide insights into issues impacting senior communities.