Archive for September, 2011

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Use Social Media to Enhance Your Advocacy

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Dear Research Advocate,

Next week, President Barack Obama will announce his jobs plan. If you haven’t already, please send a message to the president and urge him to make medical research a component of his proposal. Studies have shown that health research plays a vital role in the nation’s economic growth while improving health for patients in the United States and around the world. Make sure the White House gets the message by taking action today.

On Tuesday, the Herald-Sun, a local newspaper in North Carolina, published an article titled Researchers: Budget Cuts Hurt the Economy. The article describes how a group of scientists attended a town hall meeting held by Rep. David Price and spoke out about how cuts to NIH would harm the local economy. This is exactly the type of action that is needed now – speaking out to Congress and explaining that cuts to research will not reduce the deficit and will hurt our economy. This article also demonstrates the importance of working with local media to amplify our message to the public and policy makers.

As advocates, we have a responsibility to make sure health research is an issue in the 2012 elections, and clearly we have a lot of work to do. In November, Research!America will be launching Your Candidates-Your Health to get presidential and congressional candidates on the record on health research issues. Please consider joining us in this effort and ensuring that medical research remains a top priority in the election and beyond.

The Coalition for Health Funding and the Coalition for Education Funding have authored a joint letter urging the House and Senate appropriations committees to provide funding that protects essential health and education programs. Sign on today and let Congress know that even in tough budget times, these programs are too important to be cut. Email Broderick Johnson at to sign on.

Social media has transformed the way we communicate. As advocates, we can use these tools to maximize the reach and impact of our advocacy efforts. Social media tools can be relatively quick and easy to use, but their potential impact is enormous. Use these tools to target your core audiences, but also think about how they can be used to broaden your reach. This week, I’m providing tips and tools on how to use social media to spread your message broadly.


Mary Woolley

Use Social Media to Enhance Your Advocacy

Most individuals and organizations already have a Facebook page. If you don’t have one, take five minutes to create one. You can also create pages for specific programs or initiatives within your organization. This is an easy way to drive traffic and increase the visibility of new programs. For example, every two years, Research!America launches the Your Candidates-Your Health initiative. Through this initiative, we send a questionnaire to every candidate for Congress and the presidency. We created a Facebook page for Your Candidates-Your Health to spread the word and get the public more engaged. You can also use your status updates to provide your followers and members with critical information. Keep them informed about upcoming events or news items that are important to you. Encourage your fans to ‘like’ your content – this will help to broaden your audience and reach.

Use Twitter to follow individuals and organizations you care about. Follow your champions in Congress and your congressional delegation. Monitor their tweets and remember to re-tweet posts that capture your message. This can be a great way to raise visibility for your issues and let champions know that you are helping to get their message to voters and concerned citizens. When they tweet about an issue relating to health, reply to their tweet and bridge it back to medical research. This will raise the visibility of health research with the public and provide policy makers an opportunity to state their views on health research.

Blogging can be a fun and constructive way to keep your messaging fresh. Every day presents an opportunity to address a new topic that is important to your organization. Address a variety of topics to reach a wide audience, which will help broaden the appeal of your organization and attract those who may be unfamiliar with your key issues. If you’re having trouble finding content to fill a daily or weekly blog, use Twitter to learn about news, events or issues for blogging.

TellDC is a relative newcomer to the social media scene. It is designed to enable concerned constituents to ask important and timely questions of elected representatives and political figures. Here’s how it works: Once you sign up for the site, you may submit a question to any policymaker. If enough users ‘vote’ for your question and it exceeds a threshold, your question will be sent to the policy maker for a response. The threshold is 50 votes for a representative, 100 votes for a senator and 250 votes for the executive branch. Pose a question to a lawmaker about health research and encourage your members to ‘vote’ for it. If you get enough votes, the lawmaker will respond to the question, and they will be on the record!