Marketing the Profession
Update on OASW Marketing Campaign 

Last year, OASW launched a marketing initiative to promote the profession of social work. 
The ultimate goal of the campaign is to help the public see that social workers are incredibly and increasingly relevant in the context of everyday issues facing many Ontarians, while building their appreciation for our unique expertise. Our primary focus is on those who have never used social work services, especially women who are known to connect family and friends with services or access services themselves. 

This update highlights three key areas:
1. Helping ensure OASW members have a solid understanding of "What We've Done" to date
2. Addressing "What We Learned" including filling in what may be some gaps given feedback from the recent survey
3. Sharing with you "Where We're Headed" 

Marketing the profession on this scale is new to us. It comes with learning's and new horizons. We are committed to providing an update to you at key milestones and to responding to your questions and feedback.

Thank you for your input and engagement to date. While there is much to be done, we are excited about what we've accomplished and the many opportunities that lie ahead.

Keith Adamson, PhD, RSW
OASW President
OASW Marketing Campaign (2015-2016)

What We've Done
1. Campaign Ad Images & Posters          

Goal: Based on market research that confirms low awareness and low perceived value of the profession by the general public, to shift the perception of social workers.


• The Association worked with experts in communications, advertising and market research to develop concepts that were tested with members of the public to ensure the language and visual elements had the intended effect. 
• The testing looked at three core dimensions: Impact, Message and Motivation/Action. 
• All aspects - visual image and wording - tested well with the public, confirming that the images generated strong positive recall of social workers. 
Of note, the research confirmed that among the majority of public respondents (70%), the tagline "Real Experts for Real Life" helped make the ad more effective overall, more so than what is traditionally seen in terms of tagline impact. Feedback from the market research indicated that the public wants to receive services from, "experts". 

2. Member Launch/Survey

Goal: Help members gain insight into the marketing campaign objectives and their role in contributing to the initiative's success; and enhance member awareness, engagement and feedback.

• Share the ad images and posters;
• Work with OASW Branches to help spread the images in the community;
• Provide information to members on the images and how to engage in the campaign ; and
• Conduct a member survey.

We Learned:

• OASW members overwhelmingly support the effort to market the profession. • Not all members felt they understood the intent of the ads/messages. 
• Some members felt that there was not enough diversity represented in the first four images.
• Not all members are in social media, however there are considerable opportunities in this area under the leadership of OASW. 
• Not all members were clear on how this campaign was shared in the public (see Public Soft Launch below).
• Not all members had the time or ability to add the tagline to their signature.
• We need to look at different ways to engage members in this campaign. 

3. Public Soft Launch

Goal: Begin to shape the public perception of social workers. Demonstrate the relevance of social workers in people's lives and increase the likelihood that they will seek services from social workers in the future, taking into account OASW's modest media budget.   

• Share campaign ads in 'targeted' paid advertising and articles in the media. 
• A full-page ad in the March 2016 issue of On-The-Go Magazine distributed at 792 pick-up points in the GTA with 80,000 printed copies and 100,000+ screen ads (on 94 screens in the GTA)  
• Editorial for community and weekly papers across the province. 

Where We're Headed

Phase I is still ongoing. Three more ad images have been added. One of the current near-term goals is to focus our attention on stakeholders including funders and employers where social workers are employed.
Phase 2 will also look at how we can reach the public with the ad images and more actively engage with the public, including through social media, social influencers and during key times when public issues that involve social work are on the public's mind.
Our efforts are centred on: 
1. OASW Members: Keeping you informed and engaged; listening to you and incorporating your feedback; and giving you the tools and support you need.
2. Public Awareness: Continuing to share ad images with the public. And, in time, test the effectiveness of our efforts with respect to a perception shift through market research.
3. Stakeholders: Engaging and reaching out to stakeholders to position the value of social work including showcasing our campaign along with evidence-based research that highlights the critical value we offer individuals and society. 

We are confident we are on the right track. Influencing the public perception of the value of social work services is of vital importance to the profession and a big priority for OASW.  We look for your continued support in achieving this goal.

Watch Our New Video: Social Workers. Real Experts for Real Life.