|Becky R. Schoenfeld|
American Nurses Association’s publishing team gives a firsthand account of how
their association addressed an inaccurate comment made about their profession
on an episode of The View, which led
to an international expression of gratitude to nurses everywhere.
Becky R. Schoenfeld, Managing Editor, ARRL
At June’s Association Media & Publishing Annual
Meeting, American Nurses Association (ANA) staffers Joan Hurwitz, Jessica Eck,
and Lisa Lloyd impressed upon attendees that it is not enough for associations
simply to have a social media presence — in addition, that presence must be
active and engaged. To drive the point home, they used a real-world example
that many of the conference attendees remembered hearing about on the news.
The story started out pleasantly enough. On Sunday,
September 13, 2015, the 2015 Miss America competition was televised. During the
talent competition, Miss Colorado, Kelley Johnson, appeared in her medical
scrubs, with her stethoscope around her neck, and spoke about the moment in her
career when she realized she was more than "just a nurse.” The next day, the
ANA’s two-person social media team took the opportunity to ask members to share
their own stories of the moment when they had the same realization.
Nurses responded with immense pride. "We got 300,000
shares on Facebook,” Jessica Eck recalls. "It was great.”
The social media storm was just beginning, however. That
same day, Joy Behar, one of the hosts of the daytime television talk show The View, asked why Kelley Johnson had
been wearing a "doctor’s stethoscope.” Behar’s remark caused a social media
explosion. By Tuesday, September 15, 2015, thousands of nurses had taken to social
media to defend the contributions of their profession.
This is where the American Nurses Association’s social
media strategy kicked in. Lisa Lloyd pointed out that associations need to have
a strategy in place well in advance of a situation like this one. Lloyd
described the ANA’s social media strategy in three steps.
- Acknowledge the offense. The ANA posted a message
that said, "It is frustrating when unfounded assumptions cloud the life-saving
and exceptional services nurses provide.” Lisa Lloyd said this post was
instrumental in showing ANA members that the organization agreed with them.
Once the ANA was part of the conversation, it had an opportunity to change it.
Because the ANA’s goals include positioning itself as the leading organizational
voice for nurses, it redirected the conversation to…
- Pride. ANA used its social
media feeds to encourage nurses to share photos of themselves with their
stethoscopes. On Twitter, the organization promoted the hashtags
#NursesShareYourStethoscopes and #ThisIsNotaCostume, and retweeted all photos posted
with those hashtags.
The hashtags were picked up by numerous nursing
organizations, hospitals, medical offices, and patients grateful for the
services that nurses provide. The engagement was positive, educational, and fun
— and the media storm was far from over.
By Wednesday morning, the social media response generated
by the hashtags — which had reached more than 2 million people — and Facebook posts — which had reached 4.7 million people — had
become national news. That day, ANA posted a collage of many of the stethoscope
photos with the catchphrase, "Nurses don’t wear costumes; they save lives,” as
well as a link to the organization’s official statement on Joy Behar’s comment.
This intensified the media storm, causing it to go
international. "It just built and built and built,” says Joan Hurwitz. State-level
nursing associations conducted media interviews. Kelley Johnson appeared on
Ellen Degeneres’ daytime talk show. ABC Television came under fire for Joy
Behar’s comment — 17 companies pulled their advertising.
Joy Behar issued an apology, and The View had a group of nurses on the show to teach the hosts how
to use a stethoscope, but this media storm also had other longer-lasting
effects. ANA gained more than 14,000
Facebook followers and 4,000 Twitter followers. People began telling personal
stories on the ANA’s Twitter feed about their gratitude to nurses. The ANA’s
social media outlets "went from a bullhorn approach to a person-to-person
approach,” says Lisa Lloyd, who calls this approach the new normal. "It allows
us to know our membership in a deeper and more intimate way,” she says.
"If we had tried to engineer engagement like this, we
couldn’t have,” adds Jessica Eck. However, even though The View provided the perfect storm, having a social media strategy
already mapped out allowed ANA to respond in a swift, succinct, positive manner
that was aligned with the organization’s goals.
Becky R. Schoenfeld is
managing editor of QST, ARRL, the national association for Amateur
Radio. Association Media & Publishing sincerely thanks her for covering
this Annual Meeting session for our members who were unable to attend.