In August 2000, the Swedish Rheumatism Association, the SRA, started a new, exclusive training about how to influence political processes and public opinion. 55 members from our district federations take part in the training, which will continue for three terms.
The main purpose is to strengthen the districts in their work for better conditions for the members and for everyone with arthritis/rheumatism. Contacts with media are a main bulk of the training. The need for good media strategies will be most important during the Year of Arthritis/Rheumatism in Sweden 2002, when our association co-operates with the Swedish pharmacies to focus on rheumatic diseases. In Sweden, medicine and health is the third most exposed subject in media just now.
A media analysis we have done shows that publicity about arthritis/rheumatism and the SRA generated about 60 millions possible occasions for media-consumers to pay attention to these subjects during the first six months in 2000. The analysis is based on 365 newspaper articles and broadcasting reports. Most of these (75 percent) were common information about people with rheumatic diseases and different applications of treatments. The SRA was exposed in 25 percent of the articles and reports.
When media pays attention to rheumatic diseases, the most frequent subject is pharmaceutical drugs followed by personal interviews with people suffering from arthritis/rheumatism and facts about the diseases. Even when the Rheumatism Association is exposed, the main subject is pharmaceutical drugs.
People with arthritis/rheumatism are the main figures, followed by doctors and scientists/experts. When attention is paid to the association, local representatives and members are important figures.
The analysis shows that there is good ground and many possibilities for the SRA to increase the media attention, take a larger part of the total publicity and focus on a strong and clear image.
Main items in the lobby-training is:
Rhetoric and argumentation,
How to influence political processes
Contacts with media
The training is partly IT-based and includes four meetings on a national level (each for two days), mixed with regional meetings and homework. Between the meetings, Intranet connects participants and coaches, where they chat, ask questions, discuss and learn from each other. Memos, working papers, subjects for homework, etc are available on Intranet.
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