We’re strong believers in the power of members as messengers, especially in the socially networked era. And the latest proof of that power comes from a spontaneous campaign among doctors working in the UK’s National Health Service.
Last week, UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt threatened to impose mandatory weekend working on hospital doctors in England. He claimed people were dying because of a “Monday to Friday culture” in the NHS.
He’s far from the first right-wing politician to insinuate that people working in the public sector are lazy. It’s an article of conservative faith that public-sector workers don’t make that extra effort the sainted private sector would demand.
Yet in conservative-led jurisdictions, public-sector employees are working harder than ever, trying to bridge the gaps created by cutbacks from, yes, conservative politicians. They’re far more committed to the people they’re serving than their right-wing employers are.
For communicators, the challenge is to make that point without playing into the right-wing narrative by sounding entitled or whiny.
NHS doctors rose to that challenge with a spontaneous campaign dubbed “I’m In Work Jeremy,” started by a trainee doctor. Within just a few days, thousands of them had posted selfies: photos of themselves and colleagues on the job, on the weekend, tagged with #ImInWorkJeremy. As of today, the hashtag has appeared more than 125,000 times.
And the impact went well beyond social media. Mainstream news outlets picked up on it, starting with a news website for GPs and eventually drawing coverage from The Guardian, the BBC and more.
What did #ImInWorkJeremy do right, and what can you learn from it for your next campaign? Here are seven lessons: (more…)