Several Activities Proposed for Social Work Month in March

Social Workers Change FuturesSocial workers from across the country are being asked to do their part to promote the profession by taking action during National Professional Social Work Month, held each March. This year’s theme is “Social Workers Change Futures.”

There have already been 4,000 visits to the Social Work Month 2011 Toolkit website.

“We need members to act to help make this a successful Social Work Month,” said Gail Woods Waller, communications director for NASW.

The toolkit offers dozens of examples and step-by-step instructions to formulate an effective campaign both locally and nationwide. One example is using social media to promote the message.

“Throughout March we’re encouraging social workers to tweet, update status messages, post on blogs and post videos online that help explain what they do,” said Ebony Jackson, Web designer at NASW. The toolkit offers templates and speaking topics to assist participants with messages and videos. Social workers and fans of the profession can even post the Social Work Month 2011 logo as their Facebook profile photo during March.

Other detailed activities in the toolkit include:

Getting interviewed. Social workers can contact their local media to spread the word about this year’s theme. “The key is to offer information of value to the audiences of the journalists with whom you want to connect, and to become a go-to person for them,” the toolkit explains. This section of the toolkit also offers links to media websites, press release templates and more.

Recruit a student. The social work profession has more tools than ever to present clear and compelling reasons for students of all ages to consider a rewarding career in social work, the toolkit explains. Social workers can use the tools in the kit to develop effective presentations at local schools or universities. The tools include links to social work recruitment videos and the The Social Work Career Center website.

Secure endorsements. Often what makes Social Work Month events newsworthy is the inclusion of public recognition from influential non-social workers, the toolkit states. This can be done through public officials issuing proclamations in honor of the month or honoring people or companies that support the profession.

Host or attend an event. Groups of social workers from across the country are organizing “meet-up” and “tweet-up” activities on March 15, which is World Social Work Day. Jenna Mehnert, executive director of the NASW Pennsylvania Chapter, said efforts are under way to host a “Social Work Shout Out” and visibility campaign in Philadelphia on March 31. “The intent of the event is to make the social work profession visible in a positive light with a blast both in person and through social media,” she said.

Mehnert noted that the chapter is collaborating with the University of Pennsylvania and hopes to have at least 100 social work students out in public wearing matching T-shirts that say “Social Worker” on the front and “Strengthening the Fabric of Society” on the back.

Social workers are encouraged to check with the nearest NASW chapter about local events.

Publish an article. This includes writing an op-ed, a letter to the editor, a guest column or a blog post to address an issue of concern for you, the toolkit explains. This effort can assist in increasing the presence of social work online. The toolkit offers examples of effective writing techniques.

Fund national advertising. Through the NASW Foundation, the social work profession has been able to fund national advertising projects over the last several years. The Help Starts Here campaign advertisements have since been used in numerous event program booklets for advocacy groups and allied partner organizations, as well as other trade publications. Waller said in 2011, NASW would like to run 10-second NASW radio announcements multiple times in all U.S. markets during NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered news hours.

Another avenue to promote the Social Work Month theme is the new NASW merchandise store on CafePress. It celebrates the “Social Workers Change Futures” theme with posters, drinkware, buttons, magnets, apparel, bags and other items.