Key Points

· This article describes how the Annie E. Casey Foundation is using the KIDS COUNT Network in a new way: as a strategic communications tool in its focused efforts toward policy change, broad social change, and improved conditions for vulnerable children and families. An outcome map illustrates links between this strategy and the intended outcomes.

· Case illustrations of KIDS COUNT grantee activities surrounding the release of the 2008 KIDS COUNT Data Book describe the efforts of grantees in six states where the quantity and quality of media coverage surrounding the national data book reflected the kind of coverage that Casey believes will help achieve its desired outcomes.

· Strategic communications approaches such as relationships with journalists, use of locally relevant information, use of locally relevant media advocacy strategies, good preparation, and a solution orientation were present in states demonstrating desirable media coverage.

· Prescribing specific communications tactics matters less than supporting the network’s general capacity to engage in year-round strategic communications approaches to create conditions (e.g., reputations, relationships) that will contribute to successful media advocacy related to a specific event such as the release of the national data book.

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