Federal, state, and local policymakers, citizens groups, healthcare providers, community partners, and the general public each play a role in public health. Effective communicators tailor messages to their audiences.
To develop messages that resonate effectively with target audiences, you will need to know why a specific audience needs to know about your work and why it is important to them. For example, if the goal is to increase flu surveillance capacity, you may develop one set of points to convince local officials to allocate funds but use a different set of points to persuade local residents to wash their hands to help prevent the flu. Once you know your audience well enough to develop targeted messages, be sure to do the following:
Communicate clearly to the audience.
Specify your request.
Provide a reward that your audience cares about.
Make the reward believable by providing evidence to back it up.
Use vivid and appropriate images.
Choose the right moment.
Choose the right messenger.
Remember, knowing your target audience and their characteristics, concerns, and values is the first step to effective messaging. A strong message should tell the audience the information they need to know, including what actions to take and what impacts the policy, program, or event could have on people's lives. Effective communication is not about you, it is about them.
Fact sheets contained in the Communications Toolkit also provide examples of effective public health messages.