Webinar: Technology-Enabled Strategies for Social Action and Advocacy


Cecili Thompson Williams, the Outreach Director on the Campaign for Better Care at the National Partnership for Women & Families, along with the Center for Technology and Aging and the Center for Innovation and Technology in Public Health hosted a webinar on technology-enabled strategies for social action and advocacy to improve chronic care for vulnerable older adults.
The Campaign for Better Care is a multi-year, multifaceted consumer campaign that conducts
advocacy among policy makers to improve the delivery of healthcare to meet the needs of older
adults. A primary goal of the Campaign is to build a lasting and powerful consumer voice, by
organizing older adults, together with their caregivers, families, and friends, as activists for better
care. Grassroots mobilization and volunteer management through the use of information and
communications technology are key to the campaign’s goal to engage people in both online and
offline advocacy actions. Although e-mail continues to be the most prevalent online
communication media, instant messaging, social networking, and blogging are gaining ground as
communication tools.
The Campaign has identified a number of success factors in facilitating the use of technology in
advocacy campaigns, beginning with knowing the audience’s interest and capacity for
undertaking online advocacy actions. With that foundation, it is then crucial to create relevant
personalized approaches that are both interactive and engaging. A core strategic element of the
campaign is therefore to ensure the clarity of the message, and to make sure that the messages
and communications strategy are appropriate for the target audience. The Campaign has been
able to conduct message testing (including timing of delivery), through focus groups, surveys,
and polling to understand how people receive and understand the issues.
The Campaign is careful to not overwhelm people who are engaged in their campaign. Through
database mining techniques, the Campaign can categorize members by their online behaviors
and targets them accordingly with content that will resonate with them. This capability to
understand and assess the level of online activity allows the Campaign to actively transition
people between different levels within the campaign. The Campaign is also developing online
mechanisms to track offline actions, through inviting people to sign up to take a pledge and then
provide feedback on the outcome. Although not an entirely robust evaluation method, it
nonetheless provides insight into people’s experience with the campaign, and the effectiveness of
their messaging and communications strategy in engaging people.
As an organization, the Campaign addresses people’s fear and misuse of technology through
concurrent online and offline actions. These actions include making personal calls to people and
providing opportunities to attend local events that help to identify with people and the issues in a
real-world context. Furthermore, the Campaign acts as a capacity builder by providing the tools
and support to help their audience engage in new ways. Simply having supporting resources
available such as talking points, template articles, and step-by-step instructions for tech-based
actions (such as adding a logo to a blog) has an important impact on the confidence of
individuals to engage other people directly on issues, even if the individual never uses these

Webinar Slides

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