Building Media Relationships to Expand Medicaid and CHIP Outreach Efforts

June 29, 2016

When it comes to news, parents and other Connecting Kids to Coverage National Campaign target audiences get information from a variety of sources. Findings from a Pew Research Center study provides considerations when planning your communications strategy: approximately 57 percent of U.S. adults get their news from a television source, which outpaces both radio (25 percent) and print newspapers (20 percent). And nearly 4 in 10 adults (38 percent) said they often get their news from digital sources, including news websites or apps (28 percent) and social networking sites (18 percent). The Pew Research Center also found that adults are turning to local TV in greater numbers than other news mediums, including radio, print, and network news. One thing is clear, building relationships with media as you plan and implement Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) outreach activities is invaluable.

Creating and strengthening relationships with the media takes research, time and effort. But the investment can help create immediate and/or future opportunities to share Medicaid and CHIP enrollment information and messages. Local media outlets are particularly interested in hearing about the work community-based organizations are doing, especially if there are personal success stories to share. And news stories about your organization also helps build trust, credibility, and informs the community about local support services available to help enroll in health coverage and other public benefit programs.

The Campaign assembled a panel of public relations experts, media and non-profit leaders on our June webinar to discuss media relations. Specifically the panel examined the importance of engaging traditional and non-traditional media to widely share messages about Medicaid and CHIP, event information, and personal enrollment stories to ultimately help insure more children and teens – and their parents. The webinar featured tips for success when pitching, including tailoring stories for each type of media and collaborating with the 10 CMS regional offices across the country. Blogs have become increasingly popular sources of information in recent years – both at a national and local level – and should be considered when planning an earned media strategy. According to BlogHer, bloggers covering family topics may be interested in stories on health coverage options for families or featuring a family who has had positive outcomes from enrolling in Medicaid and CHIP.

Campaign in Action

Enroll America's media relations activities have been an integral part of organization's communications strategy over the last three Marketplace Open Enrollment periods. And, placing stories in specialty media outlets has been central to their promotion of Open Enrollment to harder-to-reach consumers. Through their work serving minority communities, Enroll America has fostered relationships with multicultural outlets, like Spanish television networks Univision and Telemundo, to provide in-language news and information. Key to their success has been the selection of an impactful spokesperson with a connection to the program and an ability to connect with audiences. Utilizing lessons learned, Enroll America has developed the "Get Covered Champion Communicators" program which offers free, hand-on media support from the organization’s communications experts.

Florida-based Family Healthcare Foundation has been successful engaging with media outlets in their area to increase Medicaid and CHIP enrollment, even with a limited budget. The organization conducts targeted media outreach and holds events likely to attract the press. And once they get media coverage, the Family Healthcare Foundation promotes the news clips on social media channels to further broaden the reach of their media efforts.

New! School-Based Outreach and Enrollment Toolkit

The Campaign's School-Based Outreach and Enrollment Toolkit has just been released! This Toolkit includes strategies for partnering with schools to reach and enroll eligible children in Medicaid and CHIP. Features of the Toolkit include message guides, templates, outreach calendars, and resources. You can access the Toolkit on the Back-to-School and School-based Outreach page on InsureKidsNow.gov, as well as additional resources for year-round school-based enrollment activities.

Additional Resources

Tools for media outreach can be found in the Campaign's Outreach Tool Library, including ready-made article templates for placing information in community newspapers, school newsletters, church bulletins, local community organizations, websites and blogs.

And don't forget to explore the Campaign webinar archive for additional outreach ideas!

We would love to hear from your organization via email or Twitter (use #Enroll365 in Tweets!) if you have any best practices to share with others groups, including working with media or Back-to-School tactics you are currently planning or have used in recent years.

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