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Preventing Ohio Child Abuse – with the Power of Facebook

April 23, 2012

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Social media can helpful in tracking down an old friend or flame, but it is going beyond that in Ohio, helping organizations build awareness for important causes. For example, in April, which is Child Abuse Prevention Month, Ohio children's services agencies used Facebook as a launchpad for their their "Wear Blue to Work Day" campaign.

Patty Jo Burtnett, public relations manager with Lorain County Children's Services, says she was surprised when the number of people who subscribed to the agency's page increased more than 30 percent.

"You can see that those photos people took of themselves and posted on our page also were shared with their family and friends - and of course, their relatives shared them. The reach with social media was huge - it was thousands of people."

Julie Malkin, Lucas County Children's Services public information officer, says interest in her agency's Facebook page doubled with this month's campaign. Social media is low-cost and easily accessible, which she says makes it a valuable tool to provide information about what Lucas County Children's Services employees do to work with children and families.

"The more we can reach people through Facebook, it's going to demystify what we do. Maybe people will be more open to hearing our messages, whether they're through Facebook or through more traditional media."

Burtnett says Facebook has been especially helpful in building relationships with businesses, nonprofit groups and other organizations.

"Using social media gave us a reach into those communities we would not otherwise have a connection to, and got them to become involved in this campaign and join us in this shared interest of preventing child abuse."

Workers in the offices of Gov. John Kasich and Attorney General Mike Dewine, as well as employees of hundreds of businesses and members of community groups across the state participated, Burtnett says, wearing blue on April 11 to raise awareness of child abuse prevention. The agencies say it won't be the last time they use social media to engage the community.


Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH