Five core communications strategies for health campaigns

Working across multiple channels is second nature to most of our comms team, who are well versed in finding alternative options above and beyond traditional processes. In fact, Icon Agency has been leading clients through integrated strategies for years now in a quest to showcase the potential of aligning creative, media and digital tactics.

What we’ve learnt from these experiences is how to support and encourage clients – particularly those in government or the health sector – to be bolder and venture into territories they may not yet think are open to them.

We understand there’s no “one-size-fits all” formula, however by working collaboratively with a creative approach, we believe there are a few core approaches that can really benefit these types of campaigns.

1. Don't be afraid of influencers

Some organisations are yet to be convinced of the merit of using influencers to leverage their brand and messaging. If done right influencers are an extremely powerful vehicle on the journey to campaign success – often delivering value far beyond their fees.

It’s important to truly know your target audience in order to select influencer voices they will resonate with and respond to. Whether your strategy uses a carefully curated selection of micro-influencers or fewer high profile ambassadors, they must have the power to genuinely influence behaviour. The key, however, is to make sure you do due diligence early and carry out deep analysis of your chosen talent to ensure alignment.

For Still Six Lives, a national campaign to reduce the rate of stillbirth across Australia, we are rolling out a targeted influencer marketing strategy that will run across three phases over six months. We’re using the same group of core voices to establish momentum and credibility with our audience. These targets include a mix of pregnant influencers and those who have experienced stillbirth directly. Each influencer has been engaged to bring awareness to three key behaviours to help reduce the risk of stillbirth. In the first month of the campaign, we have already reached a potential audience of 2.7 million through influencer activity alone.

2. Utilising broader partner networks

Successful stakeholder engagement can help to create, deliver and amplify your campaign message.

When raising awareness of public health concerns, it’s hugely beneficial to engage with the likes of public health bodies and GPs. Not only can this provide additional expertise when shaping your key messaging to ensure it resonates with your end audience, but it also garners support for your cause from the outset. With this support established, leveraging existing stakeholder channels can amplify your campaign in both earned and shared media.

For example, GPs or hospitals can provide vital filming locations or experts that can help secure earned media interviews or profiling opportunities. Stakeholder toolkits are also an important consideration and are most successful when the assets created are clear, consistent and easy to use. These may include draft copy and infographics to be shared on social media channels, draft EDM copy or leaflets and posters that can be easily downloaded and distributed by GPs.

3. Know your target market

This involves not only understanding audience behaviour and drivers but refining your targeting to ensure maximum impact across key demographics. This was integral to the success of our After Hours campaign for North West Primary Health Network which was developed to reduce the impact on Emergency Departments for non urgent care.

While a wide range of medical presentations across numerous demographics created the issue, we identified a need to target specific audiences to ensure our creative messaging and media budget landed with maximum impact. Using Emergency Department data, the audience was narrowed to parents with kids under five and young people aged between 15-25 years presenting with a smaller range of symptoms. This gave the campaign the greatest chance of impact in key segments.

The key takeaway is to always narrow your target market where possible and integrate learnings into your creative and media strategy.

4. Events can be key for reaching grassroots levels

Events can be incredibly beneficial in generating awareness among target audiences in an interactive way.

Organisations can also build lasting relationships with their audience by creating meaningful connections through an event. By encouraging this interaction, there is potential to change behaviours and empower communities with essential knowledge.

Before considering an event, you should have a clear understanding of what you are setting out to achieve. It’s crucial to be strategic about who is being targeted, what they need to know and how they are going to be informed.

Organisations can ‘piggy-back’ off calendar or community events they know are of interest to their target audience. For example, securing a presence at a local level for North Western Melbourne Primary Health Networks’ After Hours campaign was key to reaching a mass public audience in a specific geographical region. For this project, the Icon team created a stand out attraction to amplify the messaging at a number of local food truck festivals. This was supported by a team presence sharing information and QR codes to direct people to the core website destination.

After Hours campaign photo 1
After Hours campaign photo 2

5. Push/Pull strategies

A push/pull strategy looks at how the healthcare professional and patient interact. It’s important to understand the engagement journey for both audiences. For example, communications sent to GPs should be backed up with a presence in waiting rooms to engage patients in consistent messaging relative to each project. This was a key component to help start, and continue the conversation within our campaign Immunise Melbourne for North West Primary Health.

For more information on how to solve complex communications problems within the health and behaviour change sectors contact us for a chat.

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