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Fors Marsh Group uses an evidence-based approach to understand audiences and partners with the most relevant community-based organizations to deliver the right messages in a manner that will truly resonate with priority audiences.  

If you don’t know who you are talking to, how will you know what to say and how to say it? We start by understanding how audiences access both public health information and public health resources to break down barriers and reduce disparities in the delivery and reach of our messages. This includes researching how audiences learn about and access our clients’ services, such as vaccines, screenings, or examinations.  

To reduce the gaps in public health message and delivery, read below or download our tip sheet: 

  1. Conduct research upfront. Allocate funds for message testing at the outset to ensure communications resonate with your audiences, which will improve campaign reach and results. 
  2. Partner in the community. Strengthen your campaign by partnering with an organization that has familiarity with your audience, perhaps even its own research data. Partner relationships can take many forms and don't always require funding. Often the most meaningful relationships are reciprocal and involve mutual interchange of market exposure, valuable information, and capacity-building.  
  3. Vet your subject matter experts. Larger organizations that have self-identified as community experts or representatives may not have the lived experience to understand the nuances and needs of your audience. Do your due diligence by getting to know the SMEs and reach out to others that have worked with them. The loudest voice is not always the most credible. 
  4. Engage at all levels. While you may need to formalize a partnership with the top level of an organization, make sure you interact with community health workers or frontline reps who are directly serving the community members you are trying to reach. Support from the field will build trust and help you get your message out quickly, especially in urgent situations. 
  5. Respect the gatekeepers. In some communities, you need to know who opens the doors. For example, when working on initiatives that focus on American Indian and Alaska Native community members, partner with consultants who are members of the community and have professional experience in research and health communication initiatives. 
  6. Align and show value. Are your project goals in line with community priorities, or the needs of individuals within it? A homeless mother is likely to be more concerned about her family’s next meal than prioritizing a wellness exam. Find ways to alleviate the most pressing problem so there’s bandwidth to hear your message. 
  7. Get offline and out of the office. Digital may not be the best approach for reaching your audience. In the same vein, topic-based conferences can be too far afield. Plan to attend community events and health fairs and walk the walk of an outreach worker.  
  8. Don’t just translate, trans-create! Translate in a way that culturally tailors the message to resonate with your audience. Examine communication from one language to another through the lens of cultural appropriateness, plain language practices, context, and usability. Trans-creations respect and value the cultural worldviews of the end user and will have a better impact.
  9. Respect cultural norms. What is considered acceptable among one population might be taboo in another, or a source of stigmatization, particularly when you’re promoting mental health awareness and addressing sensitive topics. At the same time, the health resources in the community, such as doctors—may share the same social mores and alienate your audience. Work to reduce barriers and support inclusivity and diversity.
  10. Give back to the community. Build relationships and trust by sharing what you’ve learned and how you intend to use it. Recognize the sovereignty of nations among American Indian and Alaska Native tribes. Tribal nations or corporations may own the data and thus want to be the final decision maker about how the data is used.  

Overall your campaign will be more successful if you are intentional about creating a safe and reciprocal environment where all members and participants are respected for their worldviews, culture, and most importantly, concerns. 

Why Fors Marsh Group? 

FMG has more than 20 years of experience in applying data-driven strategies and evidence-based research to some of our nation’s biggest health concerns. We have the relationships to quickly assemble teams with diverse, multicultural expertise in social marketing, communications, partnerships, behavior change, technology, and program management.

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