AONP Legislative Advocacy
The Association of Oklahoma Nurse Practitioners (AONP) is the state association that advocates for and provides membership benefits for nurse practitioners in Oklahoma. Another key function of AONP is advocating for legislation that benefits its membership and the profession. With its home office in Oklahoma City, the association represents the interests of more than 2,000 nurse practitioners. Specifically in 2017, AONP introduced and advocated for Oklahoma House Bill 1013, which would grant full practice authority to nurse practitioners. (In 2016, AONP attempted to pass a similar bill for full practice authority, but the bill failed to make it out of House committee.)
AONP faced several challenges in trying to pass HB 1013. The challenges included limited public awareness of nurse practitioners and their role in the health care industry, limited awareness of the concept of full-practice authority, and opposition to HB 1013 from physicians. Oklahoma citizens and lawmakers lacked awareness of the role nurse practitioners could play in drastically improving the lives of Oklahomans. By allowing nurse practitioners to practice at the full extent of their training and education, access to rural health care would increase and the shortage of primary care providers in the state would be addressed.
Koch Communications developed a strategy to directly address all three problems. To increase awareness of nurse practitioners and their role in the healthcare landscape, Koch Comm sought media exposure intended to position nurse practitioners as subject matter experts. Additionally, Koch Comm’s team created “did-you-know” social content to educate the public about the profession. To grow awareness of full practice authority, a series of press releases and op-eds were crafted and then distributed to statewide media. Koch Comm also leveraged an existing partnership AONP had with AARP Oklahoma and allowed them to advocate on behalf of the organization, which included taking part in an AARP tele-town hall meant to target Oklahoma residents likely to engage in the legislative process. To combat the voices of physicians opposing full practice authority, talking points were written and distributed to AONP members and blog posts were written and shared through social media challenging the physician arguments.
The strategy was laid out in December 2016, before the bill was filed and the legislative session began. Key milestones were set for delivery of press releases, op-eds, blog posts and social ads. These milestones were then executed in accordance with the plan for maximum effect. Koch Comm also left space for the legislative session to unfold and anticipated certain milestones for the bill, such as its passage in committee or in the House and planned for media relations and social media work in connection with those anticipated events.
Koch Comm integrated public relations and digital marketing for maximum impact and engagement with the public, lawmakers and nurse practitioners. As stories were published in newspapers, on the AONP blog or elsewhere, coverage was shared on social media channels. Additionally, content was used in geo-targeted ads aimed at legislators at the state Capitol in March 2017, and Koch Comm used a compilation of media coverage to produce a blog as another touchpoint to advocate for full practice authority. Results were tracked through traditional public relations tracking tools and social media analytics with impressive results. With the help of public relations and digital efforts, HB 1013 made it out of House committee and then was passed overwhelmingly by the House by a vote of 72-20. The bill stalled in a Senate committee but remains alive for the 2018 legislative session.
- Based on the success of the legislative campaign, Koch Comm garnered 250 media mentions for AONP in 2017 — comprised of 107 print mentions, 109 online mentions, and 34 TV/radio mentions, totaling approximately $315,000 in earned media
- On Facebook in 2017, impressions grew by 82.9%, engaged users grew by 99.7% and link clicks grew by 126.4% when compared to 2016 efforts
- On Twitter in 2017, impressions grew by 216%, engaged users grew by 303.7% and link clicks grew by 235.9% when compared to 2016
- On Twitter, Instagram and Facebook in 2017, the total number of followers increased by 43%, 29% and 177%, respectively