Children’s Hospital Colorado | Children’s Hospital Colorado Engages Teens in Debate Process Through Teen-Focused Presidential Debate Party
On Oct. 3, 2012, Denver played host to the first presidential debate of the 2012 election season. With health care being such a focus this election cycle, GFM client Children’s Hospital Colorado (Children’s Colorado) wanted to find a way to encourage Coloradans to engage in the debate process and, ultimately, to persuade them that their voice matters and that voting is an excellent way to “Speak Up” on behalf of issues they care about.
With seats at the actual debate at a premium and a multitude of election parties for Denver-area residents to choose from, GFM brainstormed with Children’s Colorado and determined that targeting teens and their parents and/or mentors to attend a Children’s Colorado-hosted debate watch party offered a unique angle that would generate interest and attendance.
Through a grant from The Colorado Trust, Children’s Colorado and GFM have been charged with educating parents and caregivers in Colorado that speaking up on behalf of health care issues matters, and their input can make a difference. Most efforts to date have focused on reaching parents and caregivers directly so the team determined that targeting teens – particularly those 14 and older who will be eligible to vote in the 2016 presidential election – was a distinctive way to build enthusiasm among an audience not typically engaged in the debate process while simultaneously reaching their parents and caregivers.
GFM compiled a list of community partners with the client including nonprofits, agencies and organizations to target with customized emails and phone calls to encourage attendance at the debate watch party. Specifically, GFM spent time targeting Denver-area mom bloggers with information about the event and pre-scripted social media posts, inviting them to attend with their teens and/or help spread the word about the event via their personal social channels. GFM also created media materials and a targeted pitch list of traditional media contacts to raise awareness about the event.
In an effort to keep teens engaged during the event and maximize exposure afterward, GFM developed an “I Speak Up For...” concept through which attendees wrote the issue they cared about most on a white board and were photographed and filmed to document their motivation for getting engaged in the debate process. GFM also drafted a list of questions that were answered by attendees via a live polling system throughout the debate watch party. Answers to the questions were compiled during the event for the purpose of sharing live via social media and after the event in a pitch to traditional media.
The presidential debate watch party drew more than 75 attendees, with nearly half (47 percent) aged 13-17 and another 12 percent ages 18-21 years old. Inspired by teachers who shared information about the party in their classes, mentors who encouraged their mentees to tag along, and other outlets, attendees came from across the metro area and from as far away as Greeley, Colo.
Pre-event coverage included mentions from the Mile High Mamas newsletter, KOA (850 AM) and The Huffington Post – where the debate watch party was listed among the “Top 5” places in Denver to watch the Oct. 3 debate. Engagement among mom bloggers was incredible, with Facebook posts, tweets and unique blog posts from almost everyone on the targeted contact list.
Aurora Ch. 8 attended the event and interviewed attendees as well as Children’s Colorado spokespeople. They aired the resulting story soon thereafter and posted it to the station’s YouTube channel. During the event, media outlets like 9News (KUSA) and influential organizations like Every Child Matters engaged with Children’s Colorado via Twitter by tweeting and re-tweeting updates direct from the @ChildrensColo handle and using the event hashtag, #SpeakUpCO.
Using the “I Speak Up For...” images, a Facebook album was created on Children’s Colorado’s Facebook page and cross-promoted via Pinterest. GFM also created a video highlighting the images, which can be used long-term for a variety of advocacy-focused outreach.