#Ready4OE2: How to Use Earned Media to Reach Consumers During Open Enrollment

By Jonathan Shields

As we count down to the start of the second open enrollment period (OE2) on November 15, Enroll America’s #Ready4OE2 blog series will feature a new entry every weekday in October sharing lessons learned from OE1 and strategies for OE2. For more tips and tools, check out the #Ready4OE2 webinar series!

Strategy for OE2: Motivating consumers to action with earned media.

Who can use this strategy: Assisters, hospitals, community health centers, marketplaces, issuers

Things to consider: As health coverage communicators, our first priority is to give consumers the confidence they need to get covered and stay covered. According to a survey conducted by Enroll America, earned media is a great way to get that message across and move people to action. News was the top source of information for the marketplace during OE1, and we expect that to be the same this time around.

Put simply, earned media is providing news media something interesting to report on as opposed to directly paying for advertising. In considering your outreach in OE2, take time to craft an earned media strategy to reach your audience.

The Message

While the motivating message of affordability for consumers in OE1 remains important this time around, it’s also important to continue explaining the process for both the uninsured and those renewing. We have to convince both groups to take action with the same consistent message, “Get Covered. Stay Covered.” To start this conversation with both sets of consumers, start by explaining the costs of going uninsured, then address misconceptions of affordability, and finish by describing the resources available to help for signing up or renewing.

The Means

There are a number of tools you can use to raise awareness and promote your work in the press — press releases, op-eds, interviews, press conferences, tele-press calls, editorial board meetings, to name a few. The key is to make your effort newsworthy.

Action steps:

  • Pitch enrollment events to reporters around key deadlines. The deadline provides a hook for press to consider how covering an event conveys important information to their audience before it’s too late or no longer relevant.
  • Use state and local numbers on financial help and affordability to tell the local story. Visuals, including posters or demonstrating our online calculator, provide a great opportunity to show the local angle. This can be tabling, a press conference with partners, or coverage of an enrollment event.
  • Recruit notable surrogates for your work. Public officials, local athletes, faith leaders, and others speaking about the importance of health coverage amplifies the importance of your message to your community. Have them write an op-ed or appear at an event on your behalf.
  • Don’t ignore smaller media outlets or constituency sources. Though some print, radio, or TV audiences are smaller than others, their audience could likely be more engaged or representative of your target population.

If you’re interested in keeping up to date with our “Get Covered. Stay Covered” message and seeing examples of earned media opportunities for OE2, listen to the recording of yesterday’s webinar and sign up for our webinar on October 27 at 2:00 p.m. ET. You can also email jshields[at]enrollamerica.org to find out more.

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