Community Health Network of Washington
Washington State community health centers rely on funding from the capital budget to finance projects that impact community health. In 2017, the capital budget was delayed (as of this post, it still has not passed). Budget dollars in the capital budget was earmarked for funding to build and expand dental clinics across the state. The Community Health Network of Washington (CHNW) reached out to Team Soapbox to develop an earned media strategy to influence key legislators in passing the capital budget.
At the outset, we launched into message development to develop consistent and compelling language about this issue. These messages would ultimately be woven into media pitches and stories, as well as shared with local spokespeople at community health centers across the state in order to tell a shared story of the statewide delay local impact.
Working with our client, we identified the legislative districts that included key legislators that had influence over pushing the capital budget forward. Then we identified the media outlets in these districts we wanted to pitch, and strategized on the type of coverage we wanted to pursue - op-ed if there was a vocal local leader and the paper hadn’t run an op-ed on the issue, or feature story if there was an opportunity for photos and further detail on the clinic project. Then we began our outreach to reporters at our targeted outlets who have covered state budget or healthcare stories in the past. When we got a bite, we facilitated the interview between the outlet and the local community health center client, developed talking points, and liaised between our contact and the reporter.
Communications efforts successfully engaged health centers to ensure that legislators heard the message about the importance of passing the state capital budget.We also made great strides in illustrating the benefit community health centers have on low-income populations. Stories were placed in The Seattle Times, the Federal Way Mirror, Ellensburg Record, Capitol Hill Times and segments ran on KOMO radio and KING-TV.