Sunday, May 15, 2011

Media Strategy

This week has been full of unexpected surprises. For example, what started as a minor twinge in my back Tuesday night ended up being a slipped disc Wednesday morning, and that has peppered my experience throughout, up through today. To be sure, the symposium which I'd signed up for on Wednesday was a difficult experience to sit through because the very act of sitting caused me so much discomfort that I'm not entirely sure how, exactly, I was able to accomplish it for hours at a stretch. In contrast, having been to this event, I've managed to make a few new contacts, and find out more information about potential places and positions towards which I can focus my efforts. Also, it's been raining in the capitol region for the past several days, which pleases me greatly since it keeps the heat and mosquito population down, and makes the experience a bit more bearable.

The Dialogue on Diversity is a series of day-long symposia focused on different topics, and this one was specifically tailored for the purpose of discussing health disparities in the minority and immigrant communities in the United States.  One of the main presenters with possibly the greatest number of representatives from its myriad offices and subdivisions was the Federal government's Department of Health and Human Services. Specific sections spoke on topics that ranged from obesity - one study claims that every child born in the US in 2000 will in some way be affected by obesity, unless, that is, we make some changes in our diet and practices, - Food Insecurity - one representative spoke on the evolution of Food Stamps into the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program, and it's potential for wider impact in minority communities that are in need, - the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (which, it so happens, is the purpose for the title of this post,) and quite a few others, including National Minority AIDS Council, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, National Council of La Raza, the League of United Latin American Citizens, and several others who made clear several crucial health concerns for the future of our communities.

One of the most salient messages from everyone's presentation was the fact that information needs to be more available, more accessible, and more clear for the general public, especially those who stand to benefit from the broadest range of programs. For example, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius put together a video commemorating the first anniversary of the Affordable Care Act.

This is fantastic, but many more people need to be drawn to the site, and made aware of the fact that is a central information warehouse where they can make comparisons between healthcare plans, search for providers, understand the law, and find contact information for DHHS personnel. Also, there is the potential for several of these organizations to partner together for the purpose of realizing their communications outreach goals, and bringing their message to their target audience. I'm hoping I can help in that endeavor in several ways, this particular blog piece being one of them. 

But that was just Wednesday...

Friday, I presented a Social Media 101 workshop for the Altrusa District 2 conference, and it went over fabulously. Altrusa International, from their website, is " organization of professional women and men who volunteer our energies and expertise in projects dedicated to community betterment. We are also a community service organization that espouses volunteerism, service and fights for literacy and against AIDS." They are presently in the midst of a rebranding campaign, looking to increase their membership, and in truth, having heard some of the fantastic stories that this organization has been capable of achieving, they ought to attract a very wide audience. I would personally like to see the organization draw in a much larger crowd, committed, as I am, to the public service, hence the current objective in educational attainment.

I'm always pleased by how much people change their minds in an hour's worth of presentation and a few short demonstrations. Nearly the entire room went from eschewing the concept of even getting involved in any sort of social media interactions, to questioning excitedly what are the next steps. Once they realized that you could use these newfound super powers for good instead of evil "Can we set up a Facebook page for a Community Activity?" Absolutely, go and check out the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park.) "What if I don't want to have a blog where I tell the world every last detail about my life?" That's not necessary. You have complete control over the content of your blog (and for a great example, read mine! Or, go and see the Bronx News Network) Also, don't confuse your LinkedIn with your Facebook page PLEASE!!! I was asked several times if I was available for strategy sessions (yes,) and if I had a consultation fee (also yes,) but noone seemed to flinch at that idea. Many business cards were exchanged, and I feel fairly certain that I might soon be needing a secretary. I kind of like this sort of adventure, truth be told, I'm getting to utilize my technological, educational, and business acumen, and manage my own schedule. I could see myself falling easily into this pattern. Stay tuned and we'll see how this goes. If you find yourself needing to work on such a project, find me on my LinkedIn, through Facebook, or leave a comment here.