ACS CAN targets lawmakers with message of reform

WASHINGTON: The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), the nonprofit's advocacy arm, is using citizen advocates to encourage friends and family, as well as lawmakers, to support healthcare reform.

WASHINGTON: The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), the nonprofit's advocacy arm, is using citizen advocates to encourage friends and family, as well as lawmakers, to support healthcare reform.

The Washington-based organization launched “Action: Now Not Later,” an integrated campaign that incorporates PR, social media, events, advertising, and grassroots, on July 1. It targets cancer survivors, policymakers, and their constituencies as the healthcare reform debate heats up before the August recess.

“[The campaign is] running at arguably the most critical time in the debate,” said Steve Weiss, senior director of media advocacy for ACS CAN. “We want to emphasize to lawmakers that progress must continue.”

GMMB, a political advocacy firm which has worked with the organization for four years, helped create a set of videos to post to the organization's YouTube, Facebook, and MySpace pages.

One video, featuring a couple who are both cancer survivors, discusses the costs of their treatments and the others tell the stories of cancer survivors who went to Washington in May to lobby on behalf of ACS CAN.

The organization held its first lobby day in May, bringing cancer survivors from across the country to meet with lawmakers and encourage reform. It held another lobby day on July 15, bringing in an advocate from each state, and has plans for a third in September with 500 advocates, said Weiss.

“We've had intensive local outreach,” he noted.

Media outreach has focused on health policy and political reporters at national print and online publications and minority publications in Washington. The media team also used the two day events to target regional media and Washington bureaus with the stories of the citizen advocates.

ACS CAN has budgeted $3 million to spend on reform advocacy for the year, said Weiss, including the “Action: Now Not Later” campaign.

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