As you enter the beautiful state of Virginia, you will often pass a sign reading “Virginia is for lovers.” This slogan is the Virginia motto; and it’s awesome. But, what else is Virginia for? What do these “lovers” love? Well, Virginians love clean water and we have the numbers to prove it.
In 2015, the Coalition, its members, and environmental organizations across the country worked to ensure adoption of the the Clean Water Rule. This rule is necessary to protect streams and wetlands and keep pollution out of water that Americans rely on for drinking, swimming, and fishing. Shortly after the rule was adopted by the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers, it came under attack in Congress. We needed to target decision-makers to ensure this vital rule was not rolled back and our most vulnerable streams remained protected.
To be successful, we needed to influence Members of Congress in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, build broad support for clean water, and ask them to resist attacks on the Clean Water Rule and other federal clean water protections. We started this work in Virginia.
The Coalition and the Hatcher Group launched a 4-week campaign to inform and reassure Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), a long-time clean water champion, of the widespread support Virginians have for the Clean Water Rule, and to encourage him to stand against any weakening of its protections. The goal was to flood social media with a steady drip of posts resulting in a deluge of messaging that could not be ignored. The campaign included a series of four broad themes on Facebook and on Twitter: (1) Beer and Wine; (2) Families and Pets; (3) Virginia Pride and Heritage (landmarks/waterways); (4) Wildlife (sportsmen and recreation).
Weekly social media toolkits and shareable graphics were distributed to the Choose Clean Water Coalition members. The campaign used various calls to action including: “Take a photo of how you and/or your family enjoy clean water, and post it using #CleanWaterLovers.” This call to action was included as one option among several suggested posts each week.
Overall participation in the campaign on Twitter was extremely high, with a total reach of more than 1.1 million accounts and a total exposure of more than 2.4 million! Facebook received even more engagement and reach. Most importantly, this campaign gave constituents the ability to engage their Senator through social media and, in the end, Senator Warner stood up for the Clean Water Rule!
We encourage everyone to thank their member of Congress for protecting clean water.