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Highlights from Week 3 Mission: The Process

Last week, our Lab members began highly targeted advocacy efforts, with the goal of getting institutions to sign on to the Open COVID Pledge. This week, they continued those efforts, sharing lessons learned in order to improve strategy and push themselves strategically.

MISSION 3: Continue getting universities and other institutions to sign on to the Open COVID Pledge, while solidifying your squad and remembering that creativity counts.

Why this mission? Because: 

  1. By continuing their efforts toward the goal we set last week, participants are using trial and error to figure out what works and applying our lab’s findings in real time.
  2. By pushing for new creative tactics after identifying targets and developing a strategy, participants are ensuring that they stand out and successfully engage those targets.
  3. By solidifying and meeting in squads, participants are setting the foundations for meaningful teamwork in the weeks ahead.
In our Global Advocacy Innovation Labs, the process matters as much as the goal. Every week, we learn from each other’s efforts and results. In that spirit, we’d like to share some highlights from this week with a focus on how our participants have been developing and modifying their strategies and tactics. 

The Falcons Change Course

Last week, one Falcon squad had the idea to play on Time Magazine’s famous “Person of the Year” award with their own Photoshopped Time covers. They discussed how to best use this tactic for advocacy: could they share their Photoshopped cover calling scientists “the new Jonas Salks” as a push for researchers to aspire to and follow in Salk’s example?

A mock-up of the fake Time Magazine cover.

Eventually, they decided to move in a new direction: creating a “Person of the Month” award given by us, on Freethevaccine.org. By honoring a scientist working on COVID-19 research, they hope to create a positive relationship, draw attention to our cause, and open the door to discussions of signing on to the Open COVID Pledge! Watch this space to see who our first honoree is.

The Dolphins Make It Personal

Last week, one of our Dolphin squads identified their target, a famous Australian immunologist, and began drafting a letter to him requesting support for the Open COVID Pledge. Not content with a generic letter, the team began an internet deep dive to learn more about the scientist and plan how they might personalize their letter. Their next draft highlighted the scientist’s own activism efforts, as well as his connection to Universities Allied for Essential Medicines—and received a response in fifteen minutes, with a promise to forward their email to the relevant people in his organization. The Dolphins then began researching the organization’s current IP policies, and sent a follow-up email to the scientist for his help finding the right contacts at his organization and other institutions in Australia. As their work shows, getting one door open with a personalized tactic has the power to open even more!

The Foxes Join Forces

Last week, one of our Fox squads identified their target as a University of Pittsburgh scientist, and started to brainstorm creative ways to reach out through poetry or photography. This week, after noticing that the university’s Center for Vaccine Research was retweeting pictures of food sent to the Center, they settled on their tactic: poetry cakes. By delivering cakes decorated with limericks calling to #FreetheVaccine, the squad hopes to show their gratitude for the scientists engaged in vaccine research while sending a positive but clear message. Now, the same Fox squad is teaming up with another Pittsburgh-affiliated team, who have been Photoshopping fake tabloid and magazine covers with fake #FreetheVaccine tattoos as a creative and public-facing way to call for a free vaccine, but were still forming a plan to connect with targets. By combining their efforts, the Fox squads hope to integrate a highly targeted tactic with one that can engage the community. Keep an eye out for pictures of the cakes and covers!

Just a cake. We’ll have pictures of our poetry cakes for you soon!

As we continue into next week, we hope to have our squads take a closer look at one another’s strategies and find concrete ways to apply lessons learned to their own efforts. Writing in our forum, Bison mentor Eric Johnson Olson reflected:

I think a big takeaway for me this week is to figure out particular people to target with different actions that play to the cost-benefit analysis. And figure out ways to shift those costs. I also loved that the Australian team played into the strengths of the researcher by asking for advice. It’s always a great way to connect with people by asking for help.

Eric Johnson Olson, Bison mentor

These are the kinds of discussions we will continue to foster as the campaign continues—note that Eric is talking about the cost-benefit analysis exercise we shared with participants in our curriculum. As we collect more insights, we’ll share them with you on this website, and we invite you to watch as our participants turn that insight into impact!

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