Media and Strategic Communication
What’s Your Role?
Media and Strategic Communication
What’s Your Role?
Media and Strategic Communication
Through your media and strategic communication work, you can help improve the health of your community by increasing visibility and support for efforts to increase physical activity.
Every day, millions of people receive messages through a wide range of communication channels in both their personal and professional lives. These channels include social media, the Internet, television, radio, smart phones, billboards, and newsletters.
Anyone who is working to improve public health can use these communication channels to promote messages about the importance of physical activity. For example, they can:
- Create easy-to-understand messages that encourage people to adopt healthier lifestyles and share the messages on social media.
- Use earned media news stories, paid ads, public service announcements, and success stories to promote active transportation options and educate local policy makers about their benefits.
- Use communication strategies to show the need for healthier places for people to be active and create demand for programs to address this need.
You can use the following strategies to share messages about physical activity in your community:
Identify your audience.
- Start by identifying the people you want to reach. Your audience should be based on your program objectives. It may include specific segments of the public, community members, partners, or decision makers. For help identifying your focus audience, see the Audience Worksheet [DOC-18.6KB].
- Decide if you want to reach one group of people or multiple groups. You will need a different message for each audience.
Develop consistent messages.
- Develop objectives to guide your communication activities and link back to your program objectives. For help planning activities, see the Communication Planning Tool.
- Create specific messages and materials for each audience. For example, some messages may focus on encouraging people to be more physically active and telling them how. Other messages may focus on educating people about barriers and solutions to building activity-friendly communities.
- Use a message map to help you create a simple, compelling message and identify what is important to your audience. For help with this process, see the Message Mapping Worksheet [DOC-24.5KB].
- Consider health equity and inclusive communication when developing messages and framing information, especially when addressing health disparities. For communication suggestions, see Framing Guidance: Equitable Physical Activity [PDF-195KB].
- Use language and images that you want others to use. For example, use the term “physical activity” instead of “exercise.” For additional examples and suggestions, see Communicating about Physical Activity: Challenges, Opportunities, and Emerging Recommendations [PDF-94.9KB].
- Test your messages before using them with your audience.
Identify the best communication channels and methods to reach your audience.
- Assess the types of communication channels and methods available.
- Identify and use the ones that will help you reach your audience most effectively. For example, you can promote your messages through:
- Earned media news stories or paid media in newspapers or on local television and radio.
- Paid ads or public service announcements on billboards or public transit.
- Social and digital media tools and channels, such as websites, online newsletters, videos, phone apps, and social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, or LinkedIn.
- Partner communication channels, such as newsletters and community events.
Share information about the benefits of physical activity and promote community programs and policies that make it safe and easy for people to be physically active.
- Promote the availability of safe, convenient, and well-designed community locations and programs that promote physical activity.
- Let people know when and where they can participate in physical activity programs. Share information about activity-friendly ways to get to these programs, such as walking or biking.
- Promote policies such as Complete Streets that help all users—pedestrians, wheelchair users, bicyclists, and drivers—move safely through their community.
- Promote strategies that encourage destinations such as schools, parks, and workplaces to be within walkable and bikeable distances from homes.
- Coordinate with other sectors to help people find safe places to be active. For example, promote community wayfinding [PDF-5.7MB] through signage that tells people how to walk, wheelchair roll, or bike to the places they want to go. Signage can include information about accessibility for people with mobility or other limitations.
These groups used effective strategies to communicate about physical activity in their communities.
Coalition Promotes Complete Streets in Pennsylvania
To improve access to physical activity in York City, Pennsylvania, a coalition called Eat Play Breathe York educated city leaders about the benefits of the Complete Streets approach to designing streets. The coalition included representatives from the local nonprofit, faith, business, education, government, and health care sectors. Its communication efforts helped raise awareness and promote Complete Streets and active transportation options. The result was changes to the built environment and planning for future activity-friendly routes to connect people to key destinations, such as parks, schools, and trails.
Play Every Day Campaign in Alaska Promotes Physical Activity
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services developed the Play Every Day campaign to encourage children in the state to be more physically active. Campaign staff talked to parents across Alaska to learn more about their intended audience before they created their materials. They tested and evaluated messages to identify which messages would achieve their goal. They also coordinated with a variety of partners across the state to make sure their messages would reach as many people as possible. These partners included preschools, health care providers, tribal organizations, and nonprofit organizations.
Collaboration Strengthens Chronic Disease Efforts in New York
The New York State Arthritis Program worked with other chronic disease programs in the state to identify barriers to delivering physical activity programs like EnhanceFitness that improved quality of life for adults with arthritis. Staff identified a need for standardized marketing materials to promote a variety of state chronic disease programs. The programs worked together to develop communication materials that could be customized for different audiences. The materials included fact sheets, flyers, and social media messages in English and Spanish, as well as guidelines on how to use these materials.
Mississippi Encourages People to Move Your Way [PDF-2.7MB]
To help promote physical activity, the Mississippi State Department of Health worked with national, state, and local partners to implement and evaluate the national Move Your Way® campaign. This campaign turned recommendations from the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans into easy-to-understand physical activity guidance. Department staff planned and hosted a Move Your Way Try-a-Thon event to promote the message that every bit of physical activity counts and help community members find what works for them. They also used Instagram and Facebook and created their own hashtag, #MoveYourWayJXN, to promote physical activity challenges and upcoming events.
- Active People, Healthy Nation Multimedia Tools
Resources to promote physical activity and motivate people to integrate more activity into their lives and communities.
- Making Health Communication Programs Work [PDF-4.1MB]
Guide to four stages in the health communication process: (1) planning and strategy development: (2) developing and pretesting concepts, messages, and materials; (3) implementing the program; and (4) assessing effectiveness and making refinements.
- Communicating about Physical Activity: Challenges, Opportunities, and Emerging Recommendations [PDF-94.9KB]
Strategic brief describes barriers to clear communication about physical activity and provides recommendations about how to address challenges and take advantage of opportunities.
- CDC Clear Communication Index
Research-based tool to help people develop and assess public communication materials.
- Framing Guidance: Equitable Physical Activity [PDF-195KB]
Recommendations on how to communicate about equitable access to physical activity.
- Health Equity Guiding Principles for Inclusive Communication
Emphasizes the importance of addressing all people inclusively and respectfully. Helps ensure that communication products and strategies consider the specific cultural, linguistic, environmental, and historical situation of each population or audience of focus.
- National Physical Activity Plan: Mass Media Sector [PDF-9.4MB]
Policy and programmatic recommendations to increase physical activity. It includes strategies and tactics that communities, organizations, and individuals in mass media can use to support physically active lifestyles.
- State and Community Health Media Center
Free or low-cost, audience-tested advertisements, photos, and other material to support program efforts. Your organization’s name, logo, and website can be added for a small fee. Sample advertisements include:
- Moving Matters Campaign
Active People, Healthy Nation campaign helps increase awareness of the benefits of physical activity, builds confidence to be more physically active, and prompts more physical activity among adults who are insufficiently active and inactive.
- Move Your Way
Promotional campaign for the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans includes fact sheets, posters, videos, interactive tools, and web badges.
- CDC VERB™ Campaign
Multicultural campaign to increase and maintain physical activity among children ages 9 to 13 and generate support from parents. Launched in 2002, VERB successfully used commercial methods of youth marketing to promote physical activity as cool, fun and a chance to have a good time with friends. The campaign focused on four racial and ethnic groups and emphasized specific cultural values and traditions of these groups as a way to reach parents. Promotions also included extensive partner outreach and local events.
Fact Sheets and Infographics
- Health Benefits of Physical Activity for Adults
Adults can benefit from physical activity—both right away and over time. Available in English and Spanish.
- Health Benefits of Physical Activity for Children
Children can benefit from physical activity. Available in English and Spanish.
- Physical Activity and Cancer
People can reduce their risk of getting some types of cancer by being physically active.
- Physical Activity Builds a Healthy and Strong America [PDF-3.88MB]
Our nation’s health, economy, and military readiness are affected when people don’t get enough physical activity. Emphasizes the many health, safety, and community benefits of increased physical activity.