Published on March 10, 2014
Vaccine Advocacy, Journalism & Social Media Engagement Tara Haelle
Overview Familiarize yourself with the landscape Recognize the different media and opportunities for engagement Op-Eds and Blogging Become a false balance detective Know your audience General communication tips
Learn the Landscape Mainstream USA Today, WSJ, NYT, major network TV news Local newspaper, local news Online media media Slate, Salon, Jezebel Specialty/science/health WebMD, SciAm, LiveScience “Alternative media health” news sites Natural News, GreenMedInfo, Mercola
Learn the Landscape Professional organizations (AAP, FAAP) Vaccine advocacy groups (avoid “pro-vaccine”) Anti-vaccine advocacy groups Voices for Vaccines, PKIDs, Immunization Partnership NVIC, AVN, Age of Autism, SafeMinds, Generation Rescue Facebook pages Informed Parents of Vaccinated Children, COVRAC, Refutations to Anti-Vaccine Memes, Nurses Who Vaccinate, Every Child By Two Vaccination Information Network (VINE), Sherri Tenpenny
Learn the Landscape “Paul Offit” “Barbara Loe Fisher” “Geiers” “Russell Blaylock” “Robert F. Kennedy” “Sherri Tenpenny” “Louise Habakus”
Ways to Engage Op-eds Letters, commentaries Blogging (including guest posts) Twitter Facebook Pinterest Comments sections of articles (ewww…) Be available to journalists Connecting others – be a hub
Why Social Media? Pediatrics: “The Impact of Social Networks on Parents’ Vaccination Decisions” What are this study findings’ implications? Studies on Twitter Sharing articles, op-eds, blogs, etc. “Memes”
Op-eds Traditional vs. Blog posts media (newspapers) ≤1000 words Expert authors, advocates, etc. Specific audience Online only Variable length Can be written by anyone Variable audience May be responding to other media
Op-ed characteristics Addresses a timely issue of public interest Clearly defined audience Author’s credentials or perspective or personal experience Clear structure Structure easily applied/adapted to blogs
Op-ed Structure What’s the issue? What’s the problem? Who’s affected? What’s been done? What remains to be done? How can it be done? Call to action Optional: author’s stakes/involvement
Example: Op-Ed LA Times: "Public Health: Not vaccinated? Not acceptable” Who is the intended audience? What is the problem? How does the author build his case? What’s the call to action?
Example: Personal Column New Republic: “I’ve Got Whooping Cough. Thanks a Lot, Jenny McCarthy” How does this differ from an op-ed? How is it similar? How effectively does this article communicate its message? How does this message stumble in communicating its message?
Example: Blog post RWAS: “Oversimplification and hubris can backfire: For once, it wasn’t actually Jenny McCarthy’s fault” What is the goal of this response? How does the writer attempt to accomplish this goal? How is this post similar/different from op-eds?
False Balance/Equivalence What is it? Why does it occur? When you’re a source… When you see it in the media… When you see it in social media…
Example: General Commentary Politico: “Why is Katie Couric Promoting Vaccine Skeptics?” Who is the audience? How does this differ from an op-ed? What is the call to action? What valuable key points or impressions might a lay reader take away from this piece?
General communication tips Have a “time peg” (be current) Be concise and direct Keep it simple Use clear language, short sentences AVOID JARGON Choose (only a few) numbers strategically Use active voice Start strong (hook), finish strong KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Know Your Audience Understand their values, beliefs, trust, fears Validate potential reader concerns/fears Don’t assume they share your trust/beliefs, especially in traditional institutions Be careful not to make assumptions about their knowledge/experience OR to patronize Educate but don’t overwhelm or condescend – What do they NEED to know? Always speak to the middle, not the extremes
Audience on Social Media Becomes polarizing quickly (duh) Comments are very influential (Science study) Understand “lurkers” and 90-9-1 rule The way you engage with those on the extremes influences the way the silently observing fencesitters view the issue (and the evidence)
What Makes for Viral Pieces? Personal stories Ultra timely issues (the faster, the better) Celebrities Quickly digestible Edgy or surprising (the hook) Good image can help Big numbers
Your Voice Matters Communication Parents, legislators, advocacy groups, academics, the media, manufacturers Decision-makers is essential consider multiple voices Vaccine programs Recommendations for vaccines Research priorities
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