The Network

for LGBT Tobacco Control

Tips for how to get health promotion messages into LGBT blogs

By Scout
Network for LGBT Health Equity
A project of The Fenway Institute, Boston, MA
Reporting from Netroots Nation LGBT Pre-Conference, Minneapolis, MN

It's a packed room of bloggers and LGBT orgs at the Netroots LGBT Pre-Conf

We all have to build new skills

Remember just last year when many state dept of health folk were blocked from Facebook, Twitter and other social media? Well, perhaps because the feds have set a standard of using social media for their routine promotion work, we all now realize that Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter… all these are tools we will need to understand and use in order to ace health promotion work in this new era.

Well, despite the fact that you are reading this on a blog, don’t think we’re not as overwhelmed with all these new media as everyone else. We’re trying our hardest to learn how to use these new tools effectively. But boy it’s a lot.

Many of you know, lots of our LGBT print media has already gone out of business, some have switched to an all online format, some have just folded. This struggle is one of the reasons why the print media is really susceptible when folks like RJR Reynolds start pumping SNUS ads. Like happened in Minnesota, it’s often a real challenge to get the magazine or newspaper to refuse these ads in todays world. Face it, this is one of the main reasons why we have to struggle to raise awareness that we have health disparities like our crazy high smoking rate. It’s long past time for us to take some tips from major corporations and start being more savvy about how to get healthy messages integrated into LGBT media. But how do we do it with a fraction of their funding?

So, you know we’re at this Netroots LGBT Pre-Conf today… I’m listening avidly to all the many LGBT bloggers in the room. Let me share a bit of what I’ve learned about smart strategies for getting those healthy messages into LGBT online media.

First, what are the bigger LGBT blogs?

It’s a little hard to figure out exact readership, and some focus more on social versus serious messaging, but at least each of these LGBT blogs should be on our radar screens.

Tips for getting coverage in LGBT blogs

  1. Buy ads in them! Yes, the blogs are absolutely independent, but this is one way to start building a relationship which helps get your news noticed.
  2. Offer to write for a blog. One of the big ones, is actively seeking new contributors now, go on, sign up, one way to get health covered is to write the posts ourselves.
  3. Repost their stories on Twitter/FB, comment on the stories online, just start engaging with them.
  4. Make a short list of the editors of each of those blogs and send them press releases whenever you think somethink is news. Don’t worry if it’s not national, local is ok too. Pics help too.
  5. Give bloggers scoops or first rights to breaking news, this is one fast way to build a relationship.
  6. Write op-eds about health issues and submit them to blogs (customize them for each submission). See some of the op-eds we put up on the IOM report to see a sample of style.
  7. Did I mention buy ads on them? This seems to be a seriously underutilized strategy. Yet some of the blogs above get 40k views/day… that’s a lot of eyeballs we’d like to have reading our health messages, right?

Many of these strategies will work just as well for your local LGBT media as well. And many of them can be real smart strategies for health departments or hospitals to use as a way to demonstrate that your services are LGBT-friendly.

OK, now off I go to try to put some of these strategies into action!

June 15, 2011 Posted by | Action Alerts, APHA, Blogs en español, Break Free Alliance, CPPW, Creating Change, Creating Change 2010, Creating Change 2011, Minnesota, National Coalition for LGBT Health, NatNet, Presentations, Puerto Rico, Resources, Scholarship Opportunity, social media, Steering Committee, Tobacco Policy, two_spirit_wellness, Uncategorized, USSF, USSF_mlp, webinar | , , , | Leave a comment

Tobacco Industry New Products

Some of the new delicacies the tobacco industry is selling these days.

This afternoon Betsy Brock from Association for NonSmokers Rights – Minnesota (ANSR) came to show off some of her interesting collection of new tobacco products. With more and more clean air laws, the tobacco companies are really focusing on getting out non-combustible tobacco delivery products.

We were pretty fascinated by many, some look like mint strips and of course lots of tobacco packets. Overall I’m thinking it’s all about the mint or gum type theme and I hope these don’t slide in next to the Dentyne gum, right?

Camel's new little tobacco toothpicks

Look at this nifty little Camel Tobacco Stick dispenser down in the 2nd picture.  That little brown stick is just made to be chewed like a toothpick. Pretty low key certainly. And frankly I’d prefer my kids mama used that over something giving off smoke. But the real nub here is… how are these products being marketed? They’re not being aimed at kids are they?

Strawberry cigarettes and Rockit snuf.

Isn’t it great that Joe Camel is finally gone? That’ll really give the next generation of youth a step up in avoiding tobacco addition, right? But… look at the (cloyingly sweet) strawberry cigarettes and the Rockit Snuff in this picture… and I’ll leave you to make your own conclusion on how well the tobacco industry is avoiding marketing to kids. No wait, these are probably new products aimed at college women, right? Or probably college age men, yah, that must be it. Rockit in your pocket boys. [<– update I’m getting word Rockit is actually a tobacco-free product sold by tobacco companies? Hmm, let me look into it all and get back tya.]

Guess what tobacco company puts out this cookbook?

Wish the heirloom vegetable industry made enough to give away swag like this.

Sarah Senseman, the Blue Cross rep, smelling those new tobacco sticks.

Thanks Betsy for the update. And she has one last great strategy for all of us working in tobacco control. Get a smoking friend to sign onto as many tobacco company lists as they can, it’ll really help us to understand what the tobacco industry is sending folk directly. Fewer billboards these days, but that means more is in the mailbox and it helps to keep tabs on what is going on.

Scout, Ph.D.
Director, National LGBT Tobacco Control Network
p.s. I’ve found a powerpoint from Kentucky tobacco control program that describes some of these products in more detail……465A…/LatestTrendsinSmokelessTobacco1.ppt. Thanks KY TCP!

April 13, 2010 Posted by | Minnesota | Leave a comment

Communications Example – Chicanos Latinos Unidos En Servicio (CLUES)

by Dr. Scout
Director, National LGBT Tobacco Control Network

One of CLUES new nutrition education promo cards.

(Faithful readers, I’ll wrap up the Communications talk later, but for now, the day is moving on, let me keep up).

CLUES is one of the four statewide wellness (tobacco, diet, exercise) networks in Minnesota. This aft each network is presenting examples of communications pieces they’ve created. First up is CLUES with some new materials they created for diet education. Love the bright sharp graphics. But Steve is still with us, so he’s helping push the thinking for each piece. He says…. what about getting a letter to the editor about this? Have someone write in and say thank you for making this piece, they have it up on their fridge and are using it to really rethink their meals. Or are you posting these new pieces on FB too? Echoing them all through the different social media forums? How can you not just have the piece, but use it to generate News about your project. Figure out if there’s contraversy about this you can sink into, like how many fast food restaurants are in the Latino part of town versus others? Anything else you can do to make it more Newsy. Good points all.

Check out more about CLUES in Minneapolis here. They’ve got a bunch of great programs going on. Now, off to lunch. Toodles all!

April 13, 2010 Posted by | Minnesota, social media | Leave a comment

Communications Training with Kinsale Communications (pt. 2)

When NatNat heard I was blogging, she wanted to get her pic in now as our Queen!

New Media

Hey, so that was fun. Steve brought up Facebook to demonstrate how important it was for Communications and by the time he did, I had this blog post up and on our FB wall. He went to the wall and then the post and the whole room went ‘cool!’ (and they thought I was just all distracted with my typing)

Ok, now back to the info he’s feeding us.

He’s really gung ho on social media now. Why? Because it’s a huge new forum to catch ears and eyes. Here, let’s lay out some numbers…


  • 400 Millions users
  • 200M log in every day!
  • 3.5M update their status daily
  • 3B photos are uploaded/month
  • 5M links per week uploaded
  • 3.5M new events created every month
  • 1.5M local businesses on FB
  • 2M people/day become fans of pages
  • 5.3B total fans of pages now on FB

Power of Earned Media – Cause Companies/Policymakers are Sensitive to Public Notice

So…. Steve really encourages us to use New Media because there’s huge opportunities here for to splash your message, and people/groups/companies are very sensitive to public discussion of their work/product. He gave a great example from his time with Daschle. Years ago, Daschle woke him up at midnight, saying they needed to redo their media now because they were getting killed. Our guy Steve hadn’t seen that at all, so woke up the local guy at midnight too to ask, what is happening? The local guy said “there’s nothing bad in the media, what happened was one buddy of Daschle cornered him about one letter to the editor in a tiny rag near here, and that’s what’s upsetting him.” It was a good example. Steve pointed out that here was a seasoned veteran of Congress, that just got derailed by one small letter to an editor in a tiny town. Yah, good point, that is a great way to leverage power.

I had a recent example myself the other day… I’d spend hours on the phone trying to get a problem fixed with my cell provider. And in the middle, I Tweeted about how aggravating it was. Suddenly, the company was Tweeting me back, asking if it was fixed, what could they do? I was still on phone… so I said… just wait. But then it really struck me, I got off the phone with my TA person promising to call me back tomorrow to check to make sure all was well… she never did, but the Twitter company rep was sure nuf, tweeting me the next day, was all well? It really was a lesson that when I just said something in a public venue, the company responded in a totally different manner than when I said the same on the phone line to them. Hmm, interesting.

Wups, gotta run. The folk on the other side of the room are making me laugh…. I hear them saying louder and louder “Tweet, TWEET, TWEET.” What? “We’re Tweeting you.” Oh, well I’m blogging. Ok, so let me post this and run to Twitter. Ta all. More later. Question b4 then, who’s the best spokesperson for almost any issue?

April 13, 2010 Posted by | Minnesota, social media | , , , , | Leave a comment

Communications Training with Kinsale Communications

By Scout,
Director, Network for LGBT Tobacco Control

Morning all! Hey, I’m in a convening of the Minnesota statewide tobacco disparity networks and this morning we’ve got Steve Kinsella here, a former PR guy for Daschle and others, giving us a training on Communications Strategies. So… instead of taking notes, I thought, why not just blog some of the high points?

So, see him in the pic to the right starting with the key elements of an effective communications plan.

Key Elements of An Effective Communications Plan

  • Goal — what you are trying to accomplish
  • Strategy — how you will accomplish it
  • Audience — who your campaign is directed towards
  • Message — your guiding theme. Must include a value + ask. Examples include: “Keep our children away from 2ndhand smoke.” “Don’t make the workers choose between their job and clean air.”
  • Soundbites — pretty obvious, examples above.

One thing lots of us struggle about is… not understanding what is news. Helping to understand that helps us understand how to make it.

What makes News?

News is an event, occurrence, or action that has an impact on the audience in either a direct or emotional sense.

Direct impact: something that directly affects the reader or his environment, friends, pocketbook, etc. Examples include: tax increases, insurance costs, unhealthy environment, crime, decisions affecting schools, etc.

Emotional impact: something that strikes the emotional chord (anger, fear, sadness, happiness), more emotion, higher news value. Examples include: puppy in well, death of celebrity, airplane landing on Hudson, etc.

Add conflict! Steve says, “Never be afraid of conflict.” Conflict is a short story, it’s tension that draws eyes. Just keep your message focused so it seems like you’re the Luke Skywalker not Darth Vader. Example brought up is the local pride, where the organizers (lots of smokers) feel that they’ve made a large health area, and that’s enough, making all of pride smokefree would hurt it. Steve suggested wade right into that conflict with your messaging. Ask questions, and some might be listened to better if you seed them via community members, not just through your organization. What about having a community member write in public forum, “But what are we teaching our youth if we have a big health section then we’re exposing them to smoke everywhere else in pride?”

Other tips to make your info into news. Make it local. Add graphics. Keep it timely. Put human face on it. Keep it simple!

Uh-oh, he’s talking about New Media now! I’ll post this and start to work on a 2nd post with that info.

April 13, 2010 Posted by | Minnesota, Puerto Rico, social media | , , , , | Leave a comment


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