Pisgah Legal Services

The Client

Pisgah Legal Services seeks to pursue justice by providing legal assistance and advocacy to help low-income people in Western North Carolina meet their basic needs and improve their lives. Pisgah Legal Services is an innovative nonprofit founded in 1978 that:

  • Provides free civil legal aid to people who live in poverty
  • Helps more than 20,000 of the most vulnerable people in our communities annually to meet urgent needs such as housing, safety from abuse, health care and income
  • Partners with dozens of other agencies to make sustainable change for people in crisis
  • Coordinates the services of more than 300 pro bono attorneys in WNC
  • Improves systems and policies that impact the lives of thousands of low-income people

The Challenge

Pisgah Legal Services wanted to address the high rate of uninsured residents of Western North Carolina (WNC), particularly in Avery, Buncombe, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Mitchell, Rutherford, Transylvania and Yancey counties. This high rate of uninsured residents contributed to a ripple effect of physician shortages in rural areas. 

Because the nonprofit was overwhelmed by call volume, it needed a solution that directed residents to enroll at

The Solution

Formation PR + Brand developed an award-winning campaign for Pisgah Legal Services to help individuals and families learn about and access health insurance during a time when it was especially critical: the COVID-19 pandemic.

This awareness campaign was designed to educate residents in nine Western North Carolina counties about opportunities for health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act. The campaign was deployed during the 2020 ACA Open Enrollment period and again during the 2021 Special Open Enrollment Period (SOEP).

The Approach

To expand reach and engage audiences in key counties identified by the client, Formation PR + Brand developed a campaign that both educated and inspired action. Because Pisgah Legal Services was overwhelmed with call volume and did not want to engage an audience it could not help, the call to action for this campaign was to visit

For this campaign, Pisgah Legal Services requested targeted marketing to rural audiences and communities of color. Formation PR + Brand partnered with designers who represented the cultures and races that the client wanted to reach. The agency sought input from its Latinx partners to ensure language and cultural relevance were appropriate and employed the services of a designer who created ads geared toward African American audiences.  

The core message during the campaigns—which ran from November 1, 2020, through December 15, 2020, and February 15, 2021, through August 15, 2021—was to act quickly to shop for health insurance plans during open enrollment and special open enrollment.

The team designed and deployed a combination of ads in English and Spanish to reach the targeted Western North Carolina counties. These ads included: 

  • Traditional ads (radio, print and billboard) 
  • Digital display ads
  • Over-the-top (OTT) and streaming ads 
  • Transit bus ads 

Formation PR + Brand also created a landing page that:

  • Provided information on plans and pricing 
  • Connected visitors with local health insurance application assisters
  • Included how-to guides on topics like enrolling in a plan, creating a username and password on, and making the most of your health insurance

The Results

In Western North Carolina, enrollment was extremely high in many mountain counties—especially Buncombe, Transylvania, Madison, Cherokee, Clay, Macon and Yancey counties—compared to other parts of the state and country.

Pisgah Legal Services served 1,043 people during the SOEP, almost double during the same time in 2020. Through advanced premium tax credits to pay for their health insurance, these WNC consumers are saving more than $4 million per year.

7.8 million

impressions in the WNC region (print, radio, digital and OTT)


landing page visitors

3 minutes

average time on landing page

The number of visitors and duration of stay indicates that the 2020 ACA Open Enrollment and 2021 Special Open Enrollment Period Campaigns successfully connected digital users to the Marketplace to enroll in affordable health insurance plans.

“Formation PR + Brand helped us develop and launch a region-wide awareness and engagement campaign during the 2020 ACA Open Enrollment and 2021 Special Open Enrollment periods to help address the high rates of uninsured residents in Western North Carolina. We are grateful for the great work they did to help make this campaign a success.” 

– Evie White, communications director, Pisgah Legal Services

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