There may have been a Polar Vortex gripping the eastern half of the United States, but that didn’t stop the Vitae Foundation from spreading its research findings to national pro-life groups, a state-wide network of Pregnancy Help Centers (PHCs) and individuals both familiar with and new to Vitae in Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia late last week. 

On Friday, Vitae’s Director of Research Jeff Pauls, Ph.D. and Vitae’s Director of Marketing Kenney Newville presented to an association of directors of Virginia pregnancy centers Vitae’s research findings and how to apply them.  This was just days after a Virginia state delegate offered a bill to allow abortion up to birth and the Virginia governor horrifically promoted allowing infanticide in the state.   

“These pregnancy centers are on the front lines of this legislation, and everyone there was captivated by Vitae’s research,” Dr. Pauls stated.  “We were there to explain how pregnancy centers can build a stronger brand by claiming more territory in the minds of consumers so as to better compete with the abortion industry.” 

Leanna Baumer, Executive Director of Assist Pregnancy Center in Annandale, Va., said they were thankful for Vitae making the trip because of what it meant for their centers. 

“The presentation by Dr. Pauls and Newville included a helpful introduction to the Vitae Foundation’s work and an overview of how to utilize insights from practical research to improve our counseling and medical care in the pregnancy center context,” Baumer noted.

The research indicates a stronger PHC brand originates not from a particular name, logo, colors, etc., but rather from a unified, consistent, emotional promise built into a unique brand of services.  These services have been identified by women facing unexpected pregnancies and loyal Planned Parenthood customers as being of primary importance.   

“It is through this focus that PHCs will attract and retain clients and compete well against Planned Parenthood,” Dr. Pauls stated.  “With a universal brand of services, the goal is to mirror the brand strengths of Planned Parenthood and to indirectly expose their brand weaknesses.”

As a group hearing this message for the first time, Baumer said that Dr. Pauls and Newville helped center staff make immediate applications from the theoretical—walking their audience through the practical steps of shaping marketing, center messaging, and client communications around best practices.  

What was their biggest takeaway? 

“As pregnancy center personnel, we must always maintain a learning posture as we seek to serve women in our communities with compassion and excellence,” the director of Assist Pregnancy Center said.  “The staff from the Vitae Foundation were such an encouragement as they reminded our statewide coalition that they exist to make that easier with resources and insights designed to empower our work.”

Baumer also noted that Vitae plays a unique role in the life movement by doing the research necessary to understand why women consider abortion and what they think about that choice after an abortion.  

“For any pregnancy center serious about reaching, engaging, and supporting abortion-minded women, familiarity with the research and messaging strategies produced by Vitae is essential,” Baumer stated.    

On Thursday Vitae was able to provide a research presentation at Susan B. Anthony List’s Capitol Hill location to pro-life leaders from national organizations (Charlotte Lozier Institute, Family Research Council, March for Life, Care Net, Concerned Women of America, 40 Days for Life, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Heritage Action, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Knights of Columbus) plus a number of congressional and senate staffers. 

Dr. Pauls provided an overview on “Examining the Planned Parenthood brand and Healthcare:  What we can learn to more effectively develop and promote the pro-life brand.” 

“Despite the success that the Planned Parenthood brand has had over many decades, we know that the pro-life position is the only authentically pro-woman, pro-science and pro-health brand,” Dr. Pauls noted.  “With both Pregnancy Centers and Pro-Women’s Healthcare Centers marketing around the emotional promise we discovered in our most recent study, we now have a powerful delivery system for our infinitely better product (Life) and an unprecedented ability to compete well with Planned Parenthood.” 

The east coast trip started with research presentations in Bethesda, Md. and Arlington, Va.  As part of its National Training Initiative, Vitae is presenting the findings from a $250,000 national research project to discover how Planned Parenthood markets and sells abortion.  It is part of an over $3 million research effort by Vitae to develop the “pro-woman approach to the abortion issue” that PHCs and other leaders are now using throughout the U.S.