Over the past eight months, publishers participating in Word In Black, led by AFRO core staff, helped promote the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease with the goal to reduce diagnosis time in our communities. This effort was sponsored by Biogen.

The project was a collaborative effort across departments and teams, and showed us that the power of our storytelling extended to brands.

A small group met to brainstorm campaign names, articles, and live broadcast ideas. Twelve articles were developed from interviews with medical professionals, practitioners, and caregivers. In addition, a virtual event featuring those who had been touched by Alzheimer’s disease took place in June 2022.

Q Parker, the Grammy award-winning singer, songwriter, actor, and official spokesman to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s Association of Georgia, served as the host. Multi-platinum group Dru Hill provided entertainment and testimonials. Wingo, R&B singer with Jagged Edge, was a former caregiver to his father, who died from complications from Alzheimer’s disease, and also offered up his testimony and tips for caregivers. The program included original music by Baltimore native Dudley Stevenson; caregiver and author Eunice Sykes; patient advocate, physician, and former caregiver Nicole Twyman Rochester; former caregiver and urologist Dr. Tracey Cannon Smith; and registered dietitian nutritionist and certified health provider Coach Greg Lafortune. The participants were identified from select WIB markets (Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta).

All interviews and performances were prerecorded, and broadcast on all publisher Facebook pages on Thursday evenings and Saturday afternoons during Alzheimer’s disease awareness month. The segments were consolidated into a “live” event, with chat messages monitored and replied to in real time. Five segments were packed individually and posted alongside similar content on the WIB website.

It was a meaningful project combining the efforts of both the WIB editorial and digital content teams and the AFRO Digital Solutions team. Our format was a refreshing take on a subject that continues to affect many in our communities. We took a chance on a bold alternative approach and achieved significant reach. The sponsor was very complimentary, we were all very happy with the reach, and we are hopeful we made a significant difference in sharing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Because of the success of the program, other sponsors have since approached us to produce similar virtual events.

Biogen Medical Director Cherié Butts said it was an honor to support Word In Black in tackling this issue.

“They provided practical advice on what Alzheimer’s disease looks like for those in the Black community, tips to combat memory loss, and steps to seek a timely diagnosis,” she said. “Research shows early diagnosis and early treatment result in better health outcomes. Providing people with a clear path to receive quality care will facilitate this.”