Comms to cut through the cr*p.

BLOG: How to make health promotion messages stand-out in a junk-rich world.

Emma  •  Tuesday October 30, 2018
communications  •  Health & Ageing
healthier

Booze, soft drinks, junk food. Unhealthy messages bombarding us every day – in the news, on billboards, bus shelters, online and on TV.

It’s easy to be influenced to make unhealthy choices when we’re surrounded by temptation. But cutting through these messages is possible. Health promoting organisations can use PR to stand up and share their prevention messages with a wider audience.

And it’s important. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) two-yearly report card, Australia’s Health 2018, half of Australians have a chronic health condition such as diabetes, heart disease, mental illness or cancer.

One third of our disease burden is due to preventable risk factors – smoking, drinking alcohol and unhealthy weight.

PR is an invaluable tool in making people care about their long-term health, today.

Evidence to end inaction.

You can’t argue with the evidence when it comes to our community’s poor health.

Six in ten Australians are overweight or obese.

Alcohol consumption is going down overall, however, according to the latest figures, 17 per cent of people still reported drinking more than two standard drinks per day, increasing their long-term risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in Australia.

New research – whether it be organisation-lead, from the AIHW or Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) – is emerging daily. Sharing research in your communications, and putting leaders forward to talk about the findings in the media, can help to educate people about the evidence driving your health promoting messages.

Have your cake and eat it, occasionally.

In an age of YOLO, in can be challenging to make people care about their long-term health. But increasingly, consumers are demanding healthier content from brands.

More and more companies – even those traditionally deemed unhealthy – are adopting a ‘health halo’ to promote their products. Health promoting organisations need to jump in first, as wellness leaders.

Think healthy recipes, tips to move more, or advice to have a night out without booze, or to go smoke-free. With simple tips, you can help people take the first step and, in turn, empower them to make changes that will improve their health in the short and long term.

I didn’t think it would happen to me… until I heard your story.

So many people say, “I didn’t think it would happen to me”. That is until they, or a loved one, is facing a scary prognosis like cancer, type 2 diabetes or another chronic illness.

PR can be used to put a face to a statistic. Sharing real stories about people impacted by your cause, in media, online, and on social media, is incredibly motivating – it helps people realise that the number is not limited to themselves, or a loved one.

Sharing real stories across a broad range of channels – traditional, social and digital media – in a variety of forms – video, imagery and words – will help to ensure they are heard.

Co-create and customise.

The AIHW found that there’s a clear connection between socioeconomic position and health. Those from the lowest socioeconomic groups were found to be almost three times as likely to smoke or have diabetes and twice as likely to die of potentially avoidable causes.

Marginalised groups – LGBTIQ Australians, people living with disability, people from culturally diverse backgrounds and Indigenous Australians – were all found to experience health challenges.

A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t cut it when planning communications strategies to reach these groups, and it doesn’t have to. Communicators have the tools to create specialised campaigns that are targeted to individual cultures, backgrounds, and needs.

Co-creating campaigns with communities, consulting on strategies, and testing messages and materials will help to ensure that campaigns reach the right people, with a message that is engaging and appropriate.

And by working closely with communities, you will create advocates who can help to spread your message.

Practice and preach it.

Is your workplace healthy on the inside and out?

The World Health Organization considers workplace health programs to be one of the best ways to prevent chronic health conditions and improve mental health.

It’s obvious why. Creating a culture that cares for your employees’ physical and mental health will result in happier, healthier and more productive employees, in fact, healthier employees are predicted to be three times more productive.

Caring for your employees is socially responsible, and with this, you can promote your organisation as an employer of choice.

Want to learn more? Talk to us about how you can use communications to improve the health of your community.