California’s Healthcare Districts manage several important responsibilities, including ongoing proactive communications about the programs and services they provide to the community. A strategic, multi-faceted communications plan helps to educate residents and connect them to these important resources, while cultivating trust and support for the District’s goals and long-term vision for health and wellness in the community.
Whether a District is starting from scratch or conducting a periodic review of its existing communications plan, the following areas should be addressed.
Define Your Key Messages
Key messages ensure everyone walks away from an interview or conversation with the same understanding. When developing key messages, be sure to incorporate your District’s mission, highlight the valuable services provided and address commonly asked questions. Additionally, all District representatives and stakeholders should be able to clearly explain the role and value of Healthcare Districts in the immediate community and statewide.
Designate a Spokesperson
Always consider availability and subject matter expertise – not just formal titles. The goal is to leverage a consistent spokesperson that the community trusts and wants to hear from. Make sure your spokesperson is up to speed and comfortable with key messages, through regular media training and practice sessions.
Build Media Relationships
Get to know your local media outlets and the specific reporters that are responsible for covering healthcare and special districts. Follow their coverage on a regular basis to understand the topics that interest them, and reach out to provide a briefing about your Healthcare District. By fostering an ongoing relationship, you can keep the media apprised of important happenings. You can also make them aware of the wide range of experts available in your District who can provide a local perspective on major news stories, from the District CEO, to a top cardiologist at your hospital or the community coordinator for senior wellness activities.
Spread the News
People want to know about pressing matters that impact their personal health and their family or friends. Work with the media and use social media to keep residents informed about newsworthy topics, including the opening of a new medical facility, elections to the District’s board of directors, health fairs, free clinics and seasonal topics, such as cold and flu prevention, back-to-school immunizations, and breast cancer screenings.
It is important for every Healthcare District to make communications an institutional priority. Dedicating the time and resources is effort well spent to engage the media and community members in the good work Healthcare Districts do every day.
NOTE: ACHD offers workshops that cover key message development and media training. If interested, please contact Leyla Taber at 916-266-5205 or by email.
Guest Blog post written by Edelman; email the Edelman team directly with questions or for more information.