Health Communication Basics
How Do I Do It?
Planning an effective health communication or social marketing campaign takes careful thought and knowledge of the problem to be addressed. Public health surveillance can help identify the disease burden and the specific behaviors, conditions, or policies to be changed. Formative research can identify and prioritize needs, desires, and values of the target audience and test message frames. Only then can you really identify the promise for the communication: positioning the product (behavior or object) so that it fulfills the needs and desires of the target audience and reinforces their core beliefs. The strategic plan should address how to package and promote that promise through channels that reach your audience.
The CDCynergy model can help you analyze, develop, and implement an effective social marketing or health communication plan. There are also tools and templates that make preparing a social marketing or health communication plan much easier for you.
Here are the major tasks you will need to accomplish, each with a brief description. For more detailed information about each task, please refer to the CDCynergy Lite webpage on this site.
Describe The Problem
Describe the problem that is the main goal of your social marketing effort. It should clarify what the public health problem is, who is affected, and what you propose to do to address it. A full, clear problem description and analysis will help you decide whether to undertake a social marketing effort. For more information, go to Problem Description within CDCynergy Lite, or visit the CDCynergy Lite homepage.
Perform Market Research
Market research (also called consumer or audience research) is research designed to enhance your understanding of the target audience's characteristics, attitudes, beliefs, values, behaviors, determinants, benefits and barriers to behavior change in order to create a strategy for social marketing programs. For more information, go to Market Research within CDCynergy Lite, or visit the CDCynergy Lite homepage.
Define Market Strategy
A market strategy is a plan of action for your entire social marketing program. Market strategy encompasses the specific target audience segment(s), the specific desired behavior change goal, the benefits you will offer, and the interventions that will influence or support behavior change. For more information, go to Market Strategy within CDCynergy Lite, or visit the CDCynergy Lite homepage.
Interventions are methods used to influence, facilitate or promote behavior change (e.g., holding training classes to help seniors start their own walking clubs, developing a Website to promote drug-free activities to youth, expanding clinic hours to improve working mothers' access to HIV testing). For more information, go to Interventions within CDCynergy Lite, or visit the CDCynergy Lite homepage.
Evaluate Your Plan
Planning to evaluate the program as you develop your communication plan is important. You need to know both whether the program was implemented as you intended (process measures) and whether changes took place (outcome measures). See "How do I Know it Works?" for more information about evaluation.
Implement Your Plan
Implementation is the point at which all your planning and preparation come together. Among the activities critical to your program's success are planning the program's launch, holding a news event to publicize your messages, taking advantage of unexpected opportunities and defusing potential threats to your efforts. For more information, go to Implementation within CDCynergy Lite, or visit the CDCynergy Lite homepage.
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