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Creating a substance abuse communications strategy on a tight budget


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Substance abuse is a complex public health issue that leaves many of today’s community organizations struggling and overwhelmed. With more Americans dying each year from drug overdoses than motor vehicle crashes, there’s a huge need for policy and communication teams to affect change at the local level. However, too often tight budgets lead to generalized messaging and outreach tactics. While initially appealing, the approach of reaching as many people as possible often lacks the message tailoring strategies needed to elicit behavior change. Developing an effective communication strategy can be challenging for anyone, especially community organizations working with limited planning and implementation budgets.

This presentation is an excerpt of the full training and provides an overview of the key steps in developing a substance abuse communication strategy.

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Published in: Health & Medicine
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Creating a substance abuse communications strategy on a tight budget

  1. 1. Developing a Substance Abuse Communications Strategy on a Tight Budget When Every Word Counts Erin Norvell Executive Director, Society for Health Communication & Founder & Principal Strategist, Digital Edge Communications @eedgerton  
  2. 2.                                               Digital Edge Communications 2   ALL COMMUNICATION WORK BEGINS WITH IDENTIFYING YOUR PRIMARY AND SECONDARY AUDIENCES
  3. 3. TIGHT BUDGETS OFTEN LEAD TO GENERAL MESSAGES 60%   70%   Digital Edge Communications 3   BUT THIS IS A MISTAKE
  5. 5. ELABORATION LIKELYHOOD MODEL Central  Route   (message  elabora3on)   •  Is  the  message  personally  relevant  to  me?   •  Am  I  able  to  process  the  message?   •  What  biases  do  I  have  that  will  affect  how  I  process  this   informa3on?    STRONG  ATTITUDE  CHANGE     Peripheral  Route   (no  message  elabora3on)   •  What  exis3ng  cues  do  I  have  to  help  me  process  this   informa3on?    WEAK  ATTITUDE  CHANGE       Source:  Richard  E.  Pe1y  and  John  Cacioppo   Digital Edge Communications 5  
  6. 6. COMMUNICATION AS A PROCESS 01     Target   audiences   02     Communica<on   goals,  tac<cs   and  channels   03     Content   development     &  refinement     04     Dissemina<on   &  engagement   05     Implementa<on   &  evalua<on   Digital Edge Communications 6  
  7. 7. TARGET AUDIENCES: USER- CENTERED DESIGN PRINCIPLES •  Recognize  that  results  depend  on  making  your  users  (target  audiences)   happy   •  Recognize  that  you  are  not  your  users   •  Learn  about  your  users  by  interac3ng  with  them   •  Make  the  findings  of  this  research  understandable  and  ac3onable     •  Make  decisions  based  on  this  user  knowledge   Source:  Steve  Mulder  &  Ziv  Yaar.  The  User  is  Always  right.   Digital Edge Communications 7  
  8. 8. You are NOT your audience. Digital Edge Communications 8  
  9. 9. Personas  put  a  face  on  user  research  and  translates  data  and   insights  into  beZer  user  experiences  and  beZer  websites.   Specifically,  data  should  determine:   •  What  to  create   •  How  it  works   •  What  you  say   •  What  it  looks  like   TARGET AUDIENCES: PERSONAS A  persona  is  a  a  fic<onal  person  who  represents  a  target  audience.   Digital Edge Communications 9   Source:  Steve  Mulder  &  Ziv  Yaar.  The  User  is  Always  right.  
  10. 10. TACTICS: SETTING COMMUNICATION GOALS                 1.  Raise  awareness  for  the   community  helpline  and  increase   calls  from  parents  by  20%     2.  Connect  parents  with  one   another  to  build  social  support   networks  and  encourage  ac3on   among  peers   1.  Increase  the  use  of  community   resources  by  teens  who  are   struggling  with  substance  abuse     2.  Connect  teens  with  social  support   systems  that  increase  their  self-­‐ efficacy  in  breaking  their   dependence  on  substances   1.  Empower  teachers  to  take  an   ac3ve  role  in  mentoring  and   social  support  ac3vi3es   Digital Edge Communications 10  
  11. 11. TACTICS: PLAN FOR RELATIONSHIP BUILDING Channel   Audience   Rela<onship   (We  are  a…)   Content   Frequency   Facebook   Parents  of  teens   ages  15-­‐18   struggling  with   substance  abuse   issues   Suppor3ve  friend  that  helps   mo3vate  you  to  take  ac3on   Mo3va3onal   messages,  specific   ac3ons  to  take,   resources  to  learn   more   Post  3  3mes  per   week,  review   comments  daily   Email     Teachers  and   coaches  at  local   high  schools   Collabora3ve  partner  that   helps  you  do  more  for  your   students   Campaign  materials,   toolkits  and   resources   Monthly  email  with   planning  calendar   and  resources,   respond  to  emails   within  two  days   Digital Edge Communications 11  
  12. 12. Calls-­‐to-­‐ac<on  make  it  clear  to  the  user  what  you  want  them  to  do  next.     •  Use  calls-­‐to-­‐ac3on  to  connect  your  content  across  channels.     •  Use  plain  language  principles  (i.e.  first  person,  direct,  concise).  Many  of  the   best  calls-­‐to-­‐ac3on  are  a  single  word.   •  Tailor  your  call-­‐to-­‐ac3on  to  your  audience(s).   •  Ensure  the  call-­‐to-­‐ac3on  looks  clickable.   •  Give  your  call-­‐to-­‐ac3on  a  prime  loca3on,  repeat  as  needed.   CONTENT: CALLS-TO-ACTION Digital Edge Communications 12  
  13. 13. IMPLEMENTATION: TRACKING PROCESS MEASURES 1.  Are  we  making  progress?   •  Map  metrics  to  your  communica3on  goals     2.  Are  our  numbers  good?   •  Compare  yourself  to  yourself  over  3me   What  metrics  reports  should  tell  you:   Digital Edge Communications 13  
  14. 14. STRATEGY BEFORE TECHNOLOGY Digital Edge Communications 14  
  15. 15. The  Society  for  Health  Communica3on  is  a  member-­‐driven  organiza3on   bringing  together  health  communica3on  professionals,  students,  and   scholars  from  all  of  our  diverse  areas  of  teaching,  research  and  prac3ce.     www.SocietyForHealthCommunica<   JOIN THE SOCIETY TO CONNECT WITH OTHER HEALTH COMMUNICATION PROFESSIONALS
  16. 16. Erin Edgerton Norvell @eedgerton