The Importance of Marketing, Communications and Program Promotion
For many for-profit companies and corporations, marketing plays a key role in their overall success. This can also be true for non-profit and advocacy organizations, including Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs.
Marketing can mean a variety of things, but in general, it encompasses advertising, promotions and public relations. According to the American Marketing Association, marketing is “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”
Marketing allows companies and organizations to develop and promote a brand. While ombudsmen do not have a specific brand to promote, they do provide much-needed services to long-term care residents.
For long-term care ombudsmen programs, marketing can be a way to communicate with long-term care residents and their families about the ombudsman program and its services. Ombudsmen programs can use marketing as a way to “advertise” their services. Ombudsman programs can also use marketing to raise awareness around certain issues like residents’ rights, elder abuse and more.
Effective marketing can be challenging for several reasons. Ombudsman programs are likely to have fewer resources to work with and may not have dedicated communications or public relations support. They may also be limited by state guidelines or restrictions on state or local agencies.
Yes, many ombudsman programs often operate with extremely limited budgets, and marketing and communications is not often a priority. However, this page is intended to provide ombudsman with examples of how ombudsman programs across the country are using innovative ways to share messages and show support for long-term care issues.
Additionally, today’s technology can be inexpensive, and there are many outlets for communications, allowing your message to reach a broader audience. With an aging population, issues seen by ombudsmen on a daily basis are receiving more attention. Attention to these important issues also helps raise the profile of the long-term care ombudsman program and demonstrates the need for funding and training for ombudsmen.
At times it may not seem like, but there is more to Facebook and Twitter than status updates. Facebook and Twitter are both popular examples of social media. Other social media sites included LinkedIn, MySpace and others.
Social media is a great way for ombudsman programs to market themselves. Often, it is free, and thanks to social media, organizations and individuals are no longer dependent on mainstream media to get their messages out. Need to recruit volunteers? Consider posting a note on Facebook. Holding a residents’ rights event? Spread the word with Twitter.
Facebook is a social networking website that is operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc.
- Florida Ombudsman Program Facebook Page
- New Jersey Ombudsman Program Facebook Page
- Nursing Home Ombudsman Agency of the Bluegrass, Inc's Facebook Page
- The Consumer Voice’s Facebook Page
Twitter is a website, owned and operated by Twitter Inc., which offers a social networking and microblogging service, enabling its users to send and read other users' messages called tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the user's profile page. Users may subscribe to other users' tweets—this is known as following and subscribers are known as followers.
While resources like Facebook and Twitter are free, they do take time to maintain and update. Try to take a few minutes each day and update Facebook and Twitter. If daily updates are too time consuming, try to update your pages at least once a week. Student volunteers or interns are often very familiar with social media; consider having a volunteer or intern post updates. It is important to use these tools to engage potential supporters. Think about how you can build a sense of community using these resources. Finally, many struggle with letting go of control – one can not control what people say about your organization or issue on Facebook or Twitter, but you can control your response.
Facebook and Twitter have many uses. Use them to educate/inform the community about issues important to your organization; engage the public in an issue/advocacy; promote program activities, like Residents’ Rights Month; recruit new staff/volunteers; and more.
Other Examples of Ombudsman Program Promotion
Professional promotional materials are one way ombudsman programs’ can enhance their visibility among a variety of audiences. Below is an example of annual reports, brochures and other items developed by and about ombudsman programs across the country.
Videos are a great way to raise awareness and share a story or experience. Videos are great, cost-effective ways to connect with your supporters, volunteers and donors. Video can be powerful way to show your organization's impact and needs.
YouTube allows individuals and organizations to share and watch videos. It is forum to distribute your organization's videos for free. Additionally, YouTube currently runs a nonprofit program - the YouTube Nonprofit Program - that allows organizations branding capabilities and increased uploading capacity, rhe option to drive fundraising through a Google Checkout "Donate" button, listing on the nonprofit channels and the nonprofit videos pages and the ability to add a call-to-action overlay on videos. Nonprofits must apply to be part of the YouTube Nonprofit Program. Below are examples of how some ombudsman have used YouTube to share videos.
Flip Cameras are an inexpensive way your organization can create videos for YouTube and Facebook. They are small, hand-held cameras that allow users to record videos. Prices range from $50 (if purchased through TechSoup) to $200 each depending on the model. Flip Cameras comes with preinstalled software, making it easy share videos.
Examples of Video Use in Promoting Ombudsman Programs:
Pennsylvania's Empowered Expert Residents (PEER) Recognition Luncheon
Watch this video of a Pennsylvania Empowered Expert Resident (PEER) graduation. It is an event that is supported in partnership with the State LTC Office, the local Area Agency on Aging, elected officials, community based organizations and a long-term care facility, which provides refreshments.
That's So New York: New York Foundation for Senior Citizens - Ombudsman Program
Watch this segment that aired on NY City Media about the crucial role ombudsmen play as advocates for residents in long-term care facilities.
Nursing Home Ombudsman Agency
Listen to Kentucky ombudsmen talk about their interactions with nursing home residents and the important role of the long-term care ombudsman program.
National Medical Report from Washington State
The purpose of Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is to protect and promote the rights of people who live in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes, adult family homes and assisted living. The LTC Ombudsman aims to empower residents to become self-advocates and assure that resident rights as guaranteed by the state and federal law are upheld.
Local ombudsmen approached the City of Kirkland – City Council and got them excited about their program. They now have full coverage at the 60+ adult family homes in Kirkland, Washington.
Volunteer Recruitment Video
View this video on being a volunteer ombudsman and others from the Idaho LTC Ombudsman Program.
A blog is a type of website, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events or other material.
This blog, maintained by Salt Lake County, Utah, ombudsmen, discusses both the successes and challenges of advocating for long-term care residents.
LTC Ombudsman Programs are required by the Older American's Act to produce a report of program activities on behalf of residents. See below for a sampling of reports:
2009 Nevada Annual Report
An example of a short, concise annual report (2 pages)
2006 Vermont Ombudsman Project Annual Report
The Vermont Long-Term Care Ombudsman Project held a creative writing challenge for Vermonters living in long-term care facilities. The theme of the challenge was "CARE Matters." (Choice, Accountability, Rights and Empowerment.) These essays and poems reflect a wide range of perspectives and experiences and they help us understand what CARE means to residents and why it matters to them.. See entries along with an overview of the Vermont Ombudsman Program.
The following brochures and posters are listed below by topic.
Advance Health Care Directive
- Delaware Advance Health Care Directive Brochure
- Delaware Advance Health Care Directive Brochure (Spanish)
Illinois LTC Ombudsman Program
- Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program
- Residents' Rights for People in Intermediate Care Facilities for the Developmentally Disabled
- Residents' Rights for People in Long-Term Care Facilities
Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs
- New Mexico LTC Ombudsman Newsletter (Fall 2012)
- Alaska General Brochure - The Long-Term Care Ombudsman is Your Advocate
- Arkansas LTC Ombudsman Newsletter - Issue 1: 2012
- Colorado General Brochure - Colorado Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program: A Voice for Residents of Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Residences
- Florida General Brochure - Florida's Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program: Our 2 cents is no small change
- Hawaii General Brochure - What is the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program?
- Iowa General Brochure - Working Together to Make Things Right
- Minnesota Newsletter - Ombudsman Outlook
- New Hampshire General Brochure - We Can Help (Includes detachable mailer) and LTCO Poster
- Tennessee Poster - LTCOP Poster
Residents and Families
- Wisconsin Ombudsman Program Brochure (2005) - When You Call the 800 Number
- Wisconsin Nursing Home Survery Brochure - The Nursing Home Survey, A Guide for Residents and Families
- Delaware You Have Rights Brochure
- Delaware You Have Rights Brochure (Spanish)
- Hawaii Resident Council Brochure
- Massachusetts Residents' Rights Posters
- Hawaii Volunteer Brochure - Join the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program as a Volunteer Representative
- Maine Volunteer Brochure - Become a Volunteer Ombudsman
- Missouri Volunteer Brochure - Volunteers Touching Hearts
- Nevada Volunteer Brochure - Volunteer Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program
- Washington Volunteer Flyer - Full Size and Sample Volunteer Ombudsman Recruitment Ad
Tips for Holiday Visiting
This press release from Missouri offers tips for visiting family and friends during the holidays as well as inform nursing home residents and about the ombudsman program.
Tried and True Methods for Reaching Underserved Populations
An information brief developed by the National Association of State Units on Aging - Includes information on cultural competency and statutory and regulatory requirements.