Decoding diseases.

DecodeME is the world’s largest genetic study of ME/CFS. Our client wanted to gather genetic information from thousands of people to uncover causes and point towards effective treatment. 

We got to work planning an effective launch campaign by targeting the right media with a powerful call-to-action. 


Coverage hits


Sign ups to DecodeME study

The world’s largest genetic study of ME/CFS

We wanted to deal with this subject sensitively. We invested considerable time in speaking to academics and people with lived experience of ME/CFS to ensure we had an informed communications approach. We had to be highly considerate of the comfort levels of our interviewees and take into account the impact that media interviews could have on each individual’s wellbeing. We coordinated broadcast opportunities from Aberdeen to London, ensuring that we gave each interviewee supportive briefings and journalists were familiar with the appropriate terminology.

Image: Getty Images

The strategy

Vikings actress, Jennie Jacques, an Action for ME ambassador, agreed to work with us and talk to the media about her own experiences of living with ME. Jennie spoke with Times Radio in a passionate and searingly honest interview which helped to communicate the impact of the study while humanising the effects of ME/CFS on daily life.

By engaging early with our key journalists and supporting them to build the best news packages and articles possible, we created allies that understood the importance of the DecodeME study and how crucial publicity was to prompting sign-ups. 

Carefully setting up pre-interviews meant our spokespeople appeared across BBC Radio 4 Today, Reporting Scotland, STV and in print and online press. By the end of the campaign, we’d hit more than 200 titles and delivered 12,000 sign ups to the DecodeME study.


We were delighted with the role HTR played in launching DecodeME. The team planned a highly effective launch, generating awareness across a wide spectrum of national and local TV, radio and print channels. This was key in enlisting our initial study participants. 

We were particularly impressed with the  care and sensitivity HTR showed in supporting and managing interviews with people who have lived experience of ME/CFS. We really appreciated HTR’s enthusiasm and commitment to the project. It was great working with them!

Chris Ponting

Professor of Medical Bioinformatics at the University of Edinburgh and DecodeME Investigator

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DecodeME study on BBC Radio 4

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