Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Netcentric Featured in New Issue of National Civic Review

What happens when the public health community taps into the advocacy network space? Public policy transforms.

Netcentric Campaigns President Marty Kearns and Content Strategy Manager Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch have an article in the new issue of National Civic Review studying how lives are transformed when health and health care leaders and grassroots advocates work together to create change. The piece also presents strategies to bring different parties together, noting that there are two types of people working in the advocacy space: Organizers and Mobilizers.

"Organizers bring people together and create community among the people they gather. They are the folks who hand out flyers, canvass door to door, and organize meetings at local recreation centers. Their mission is to create community among neighbors and elevate the needs of the community, and then work alongside the community to address those needs. Mobilizers, meanwhile, aim to attract participation as part of a larger advocacy campaign, offering potential participants an inspiring set of goals set by others, along with a clear way to help achieve those goals.
Although they operate differently, both organizers and mobilizers are essential for advocacy. Public health history is full of stories of both types of grassroots success."
You can read the entire article here. Be sure to check out the full issue as well, a special edition that looks at the National Civic League’s US Health Communities movement and the lessons learned since the program’s launch 25 years ago.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

"Dogs Against Romney" Creator Joins Netcentric Campaigns Team

Digital marketing veteran Scott Crider joined the Netcentric Campaigns staff as our new Director of Digital Strategy on March 17. He brings 25 years of creative experience to our team, including as the brainchild behind the popular "Dogs Against Romney" campaign. We chatted with Scott about that effort, along with some of his other career successes and what he hopes to accomplish at Netcentric.

How did you get started in advocacy?

In 1996, I was working for a small advertising agency in Little Rock, Ark., when the state received its settlement from the tobacco industry. Gov. Mike Huckabee, to his credit, wanted to earmark a portion of the tobacco funds for Medicaid expansion to provide health insurance coverage to Arkansas' large population of working poor — kids in particular. By doing this, Arkansas would also be able to get matching money, on top of the tobacco money, from the federal government through the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), but state legislators still needed convincing. I had been doing some work with the Governor's office on some other initiatives, so we were asked to help the Governor's office push legislators to get on board with the idea. Once that advocacy effort was done, and the new health insurance coverage was available for people to sign up for, a statewide marketing campaign was needed to educate the public about it. I was part of our agency's new business development team. We worked really hard on our ideas and plan for the campaign — and we were selected. To make a long story short, Arkansas' program (called ARKids First) was hugely successful and we enrolled a far greater percentage of our state's uninsured children than any other state. I was invited to Health and Human Services in Washington to share our successful strategy at a national meeting of state human services department directors. After that, I was hooked. I've sought out opportunities to do things that make a difference ever since.

What is your biggest campaign win?

Without question, "Dogs Against Romney" contributed in some small way, at least, to President Obama's reelection. How much it contributed, I don't know — but I do know we focused especially hard on Florida (we did several on-the-ground events and rapid response tours there) where the president won by less than 1 percent.

What was the trickiest situation you worked your way out of?

Hmmm. We had a few bad days after the right wing media machine responded to us by revealing that the president had once eaten dog meat as a child in Indonesia. Everyone from Rush Limbaugh to Bill O'Reilly to Sean Hannity screamed about it for days and I was excoriated for "defending" it.

What was the best moment or your biggest success on the Dogs Against Romney campaign?

We got millions of dollars worth of earned media coverage, but the very best moment came when ABC's Diane Sawyer asked the public for questions they'd like her to ask the Romneys during their first network interview as the presumptive nominee. I asked Dogs Against Romney members to send her questions about what happened to Seamus, the Romneys' dog, and they did — by the thousands. On the night the Romney's appeared on World News, Sawyer brought up Seamus, saying it was among the two most-asked questions by the public (the other being about Mormonism). The Romneys seemed shocked and did a poor job explaining how much their dog loved being strapped to the roof of their car (watching this on my bedroom TV was surreal). The interview also ran later that night on 60 Minutes. Altogether, our story reached more than 9 million people in a single night, and Dogs Against Romney exploded. Incidentally, this is what triggered the "Obama ate a dog" backlash.

What are you most excited to do in your new role?

Wow. Its hard to know at this point. I love the way Netcentric Campaigns approaches advocacy, so I am most excited to just dive in and get started.

What’s the first tourist spot you will visit in DC?

Ha! I've done a lot of work in D.C. over the years, so I don't really look at it the way a tourist does anymore, but I'll definitely be going back to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial where the name of one of my cousins is listed.

How often do you plan to bring your dog to work?

Sadly, my sweet chocolate lab, Cocoa (who inspired Dogs Against Romney), is 13-years-old now and is not healthy enough to travel. She will be living with her "brother" (my son, who has grown up with her since he was 5). Our cat, Simba, will be coming to D.C. with us, though.