In the next few days, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is set to rule on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and whether subsidies are declared illegal and pulled from the millions of newly insured Americans, or if subsidies are preserved. As background, a healthcare subsidy lowers the amount of money spent on a monthly premium or reduces the out-of-pocket expenses, such as a copay or a deductible. Subsidies are subsidized by the federal government and are paid for through taxes.
Similar to the 2012 SCOTUS decision on the ACA, this impending 2015 decision will have a huge impact on all American lives. As we wait, let’s look back at what we as PR and marketing practitioners learned from the 2012 SCOTUS ruling on healthcare.
Messaging Matters: In 2012, there was much confusion on what the ACA actually meant. If passed, when would it be implemented, and what did the ruling actually mean for Americans? As a direct response to the initial communication confusion, the Obama administration coordinated with Enroll America, a targeted public education launch campaign to help uninsured Americans better understand their choices.
Be Prepared and Proactive: As communications professionals in any industry, we always have to be ahead of the curve. This means having all materials, messaging, spokespeople, lists and Twitter handles prepared, should any major announcement come earlier than expected. Rather than waiting for the announcement and reacting, it’s wise to be proactive and offer unbiased insight and analysis to targeted reporters beforehand. Then, once the announcement is made, you, your client and your media contacts are prepared with a high level overview and they know who to connect with for additional details.
Know Your Audience: Without a doubt, members of the media covering the story will have very little or maybe even no time to talk to your expert spokesperson, and most likely won’t even read your email the day of the announcement. Be cognizant of their time, be brief and don’t be pesky. Utilize Twitter and tweet at a handful of relevant reporters. If you’re able to obtain quotes and messaging from experts, utilize those quotes by targeting contacts and offering the exclusive advice. Having a few pre-drafted blogs or bylined articles will also help you stand out from others who are busy playing catch up and drafting in real time. Also, if your client does not have anything interesting, challenging or different to offer right from the beginning, hold off on sending that email pitch.
Earlier this week on Twitter, @Scotus announced that the Obamacare decision is set to be announced Friday. This allows us all a bit of wiggle room and a few more hours to prepare and get to those last minute to-do’s. Revisit and button-up that messaging, start or continue conversations with contacts, and finalize and obtain approvals for pre-drafted content. In the end, don’t forget that this is history in the making and not only is your client/expert involved, but you’re a part of it too. Have fun.