Obamacare is - without a doubt - one of the most controversial government programs ever passed through Congress. Despite a rocky (and some say disasterous) intital rollout, the program looks like it's on track to meet its initial estimated goal of enrolling 7 million Americans in the program by the deadline of March 31.
Since each state was basically in charge of choosing to participate in several components of the plan - including marketing and promotion - there were marked differences between states as to how much a resisdent heard about the program and its sign-up deadline. A few states such as Kentucky and Arkansas, were vocal about the program and spent state resources to promote it. Many others, such as Florida, prohibited healthcare workers from encouraging sign ups on state property.
Despite the controversy surrounding the law and its implementation, there is no doubt that some practical public relations strategies and tactics during the last two weeks of enrollment helped boost the final numbers past the goal of 7 million enrollees.
1. Audience targeting: This strategy makes sense because Obamacare really only effects about 20% of the population. Specific audiences included low-income Americans, young people and those who were uninsured. Targeting was necessary to save the resources for marketing mediums that would most likely reach those audiences.
2. Traditional PR: The Obama administration cranked up its powerful PR aparatus in the final weeks before the deadline to use every opportunity to talk about Obamacare. From news releases to the weekly radio address, the entire administration talked about little else in an attempt to flood the 24-hour news cycle with information.
3. Constituent outreach: Community activists who deal with target audiences were equipped with the knowledge they needed to help guide people through the enrollment process, and the Obama administation hosted conference calls to keep people informed of the latest details.
4. Surrogacy: Many celebrities were brought in to lend their name to the campaign, including Oprah, Ashley Judd and John Legend. They participated in media interviews, bylined op-eds in major newspapers, and created YouTube videos.
5. Principal involvement: President Obama is making promoting the healthcare law a top priority and is stepping outside of his comfort zone, doing interviews in very unconventional media such as the "Between Two Ferns" show, hosted by Zach Galifianakis. This goes back to the strategy of audience targeting.
It will be a while before history decides if Obamacare is a panacea or a failure. But for now, chalk one up for Obamacare. And PR.