Affordable Care Act

Three Lessons Learned from 2017 Healthcare Advocacy


Fighting over the Affordable Care Act

In this seven month-long brawl between insurance, patient, physician and hospital groups, everyone in town needed their voice heard. Adfero and our long-time client the American Medical Association (AMA) partnered to make AMA’s position known and activate more than seven million engagements in opposition.

With Congress beginning markup on tax reform and a potentially contentious Conference to come, it’s time to do something we often forget to do in Washington, step back and consider what worked.

Looking back, here are three critical lessons we learned:

Use your own brand equity

Organization after organization proudly staked out their opposition. AARP, AMA, AHIP, AHA and others eschewed a coalition and proudly put their brand’s equity into their position. This made their messages more recognizable and amplified their brand’s value on Capitol Hill, demonstrating to members of Congress broad-based opposition to legislation that would reduce the number of covered Americans. Uber made a similar choice during its campaign to block capping the number of drivers in NYC during the summer of 2015–and it worked.

Lesson learned: Organizations should use the full power of their brand in expressing their view on a subject. Go big. Or go home.

Keep your content fresh

Amidst the new legislative proposals and news coverage, organizations tacked repeatedly trying to find the best messaging. Some organizations saw this as a constant challenge. We saw it as a continual opportunity: If we can keep up or ahead of the debate, we’ll always be in it–or driving it.

The cycle is repeating itself as part of the tax debate. As lobbyists from multiple organizations descend on Capitol to push for their deductions and incentives to remain, the tax bill will constantly change and shift. Great campaigns will use these changes as an advantage, combating issue fatigue by continually reengaging their audience with new content.

Give your audience more than one action

Constituent phone calls remain the gold standard. But not every constituent is ready to dial their Member.

Providing a ladder of engagement can help convert passive listeners or readers into active advocates by giving them an engagement mechanism that matches their comfort level.

We deployed ads that allowed people to tweet at a member, send an email, use a hotline to place a direct call or call straight from Pandora. Thinking about advocacy through your audiences’ level of comfort makes your campaign more effective.

Note: The American Medical Association is a client of Adfero and we worked to manage their advertising and advocacy campaign to protect the Affordable Care Act from repeal.