What We’re Learning from Vaccine Campaigns

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Fenton has spent many months rolling out communications for the COVID-19 vaccines. Through a mixture of message testing, focus groups and pure observation, we’ve collected some lessons that we’re sharing here. 

🩺 Local voices matter. Familiarity helps build trust. People say they feel more comfortable having a local person deliver vaccine information, whether it is a doctor, scientist or a neighbor who chose vaccination for themselves.

👎  Hard words go down hard. Blaming people for being hesitant or implying they don’t care about others is not helpful. Especially with those sitting on the fence, acknowledging their concerns and emphasizing that the choice is theirs is more effective. 

👥  Meet audiences where they are. Many rural communities, low-income communities and communities of color do not have good access to health care outside of the pandemic, and historically have reasons to be skeptical of government health initiatives. Messages to reach these folks should be empathetic and acknowledge their lived experiences and the challenges they have had getting quality health care.

You can learn more about our public health work here!

Black Voters Matter Fund

Capturing the spirit of their predecessors, our client Black Voters Matter Fund made history with their eight-day, nine-city Freedom Ride for Voting Rights. Culminating wit

h a rally in the Nation’s Capital to advocate for D.C. statehood, the first of its kind to be organized by national organizations in solidarity with local activists, BVM and its coalition of Freedom Ride partners focused on elevating the fight for voting rights by championing the passage of critical federal legislation: the For the People Act (H.R.1), the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.

R.4) and legislation granting statehood for the more than 700K residents of Washington, D.C. (H.R.51).

Today, the fight for voting rights continues. BVM will continue to organize, mobilize and advocate for free and fair access to the ballot box along with their multi-racial, multi-generational coalition of allies to put an end—once and for all—to voter suppression and discrimination. Freedom is non-negotiable and voter rights are “not a partisan issue, but a democracy issue” that is a fundamental right for all.

To learn more, visit www.blackvotersmatterfund.org!

Social Issues Require Holistic Approaches 

Powered by the awakening to systemic racism (which was animated last summer in response to the murder of George Floyd and informed by health disparities from COVID-19), many organizations are realizing the need for a more systemic approach to the issues that define their mission. There is a new urgency to recognize and approach social issues as an interconnected web of systemic problems. We’re witnessing greater recognition that multiple social issues from housing to health care and justice to education stem from a set of central challenges:

⚖️ Racial inequity is pervasive. Progressives have always recognized racial inequity, but the pandemic exposed drastic racial disparities across health care access, job safety, economic security, and the critical role that local public transportation plays in people’s lives. When evaluating and communicating about social problems, addressing race is critical to the equation. Our partners at the Center for Evaluation Innovation are taking a hard look at the intersections of advocacy, health, and racial equity. 

🏛 The erosion of trust in governmentConservatives have mounted a decades-long campaign to erode public trust in local, state and federal government. But, a national crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic shows the critical importance of a coordinated government response that builds trust and confidence. We have learned the hard way how important it is to strengthen the public sector. The Volcker Alliance has been hard at work at this, weaving new partnerships at the intersection of government, universities and nonprofits. 

🌏 Marginalized communities experience outsized climate consequences. As the effects of climate change worsen, especially for communities of color, it’s become increasingly clear that for the survival of our planet we must address the climate crisis in a way that centers the needs of marginalized communities. Our partners at Moving Forward Network have been doing the hard work of coalition-building and organizing for environmental justice for Black and brown communities in communities like Newark and Los Angeles.

For more top insights and behind-the-scenes observations from the field, sign up for the Fenton Newsletter.