Communicating for health

Build the conversation

Almost all messages need to be repeated frequently for people to remember them. If a campaign’s goal is to change behaviour, communicators must plan timing and sequencing of messages along a continuum from awareness to action. (See Actionable for a description of the communications continuum.)

First, communicators should identify if the target audience is ready to change. After analysing the relevance of the health issue to the target audience, communicators can identify the types, timing, and series of messages needed to move audiences step-by-step towards behaviour change goals. To ensure the most effective methods for delivering messages, communicators should use a mix of communication channels.

WHO staff talking to a community in Afghanistan

Use media and social media

Journalists are always looking for newsworthy stories. Publication of new WHO information or guidance creates opportunities for media attention.

Synchronize messaging with partners

Communicators can broaden the reach of messages by leveraging distribution channels.

  • United Nations (UN) partner channels include the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the UN News Centre, UN Radio, and UN Web TV.
  • Communication toolkits help synchronize communications with partners so the target audience hears the message frequently and from multiple trusted sources.

Time stories to show momentum

Use multiple compelling feature stories released across time to maintain interest. These stories can:

  • highlight progress in reaching health goals;
  • sustain enthusiasm by demonstrating success;
  • show the impact of the Organization’s work in countries;
  • describe the experience of a person who has benefited directly from a WHO recommendation, policy or action;
  • focus on a health worker whose efforts have been effective as a result of a WHO action; and
  • include quotes from individuals to make narratives more authentic.

Schedule webinars, Facebook hangouts and Twitter chats

Encourage partners and other influencers to share ideas on how to overcome barriers and motivate people towards recommended behaviours. Webinars and other virtual meetings are a low-cost way to encourage participants to engage their networks. People who participate in these virtual meetings are more likely to follow and promote campaign-related social media posts and hashtags.