Traditional marketing may not hold all the answers if you really want to change behaviours this winter. Why not use this high profile campaign as a platform to really mobilise your community into positive choices and preventative action?
It’s getting colder now and even a small illness can have a profound and sometimes life changing impact on our more vulnerable citizens and their families. Here are just some of our recommendations on how you can activate your whole community to ‘stay well’ and reduce the demand on already stretched services this winter:
Start early – it’s going to take time to reach the people you need to and more than one form of communication to engage them. You don't have to run out of time; start your conversations now and keep talking to build momentum that carries through until Feb/March.
Mobilise your ‘assets’ – on their turf and in their style. Staying well affects everybody, but different audiences need to engage in different ways. It may be a health professional, faith leader, community centre event, a radio interview or something else that motivates someone to act. Map out who can help you and take time to understand what they need to get the message across, and then work with them to deliver it. You can waste a lot of time and money producing communications that you think will work - why not engage with people and get them to share and push out the messages that will definitely work, instead? You can hand out your materials in person and sell the message, and save post costs at the same time.
Use posters as an opportunity for a conversation – we all send posters out to our stakeholders, but when was the last time you remembered a poster and then did something different as a result? The average GP surgery has scores of posters on the wall and a captive audience, but how do you make your message stick? The answer could be to provide your front line people with practical tips to support the campaign; staff could hand out a checklist or top tips to every patient, customer or citizen, or simply tell someone about the campaign and why it’s important. They may not be the ‘target audience’ but ask them to check up on Mum, Dad, Grandma, a neighbour, etc. as well. Call every surgery, advice centre and receptionist and ask for help.
Integrate messaging – we’ve all heard of silo mentality and the challenges it brings, so move on by getting the right people in the room and make a deal to cross refer around your shared goals. If surgeries are giving out flu jabs, hand out a repeat prescription reminder at the same time. How about asking your membership, patient representatives, and community groups to donate a blanket or woolly hat to a foodbank by providing a collection point? Ask your smoking cessation service to hand out healthy recipes from your healthy weight team in return for healthy weight teams handing out advice about NRT (nicotine replacement treatment). Facilitate a conversation so that mental health and physical health teams swap advice. Ask your integrated care or social care teams to hand out room thermometers to every family they come into contact with, the return being some great reputation building PR.
Optimise your search – you’ve spent a lot of time creating the most useful information for your website, but no one is looking at it because they can’t find you. Talk to the techs about your online search tags and make sure that when someone is looking for treatment for common ailments, the results bring up a link to your stay well information too. Link some NHS Choices videos to your website and spend more time on building followers and friends, not just on the content.
Practice what you preach – do you have a ‘stay well’ strategy in your workplace? NHS, local authority and older employees often have some of the highest absence rates in the UK, especially over the winter. What can you do in your own organisation to keep people well? Invest in some office sanitizer/hand wash and put a reminder about repeat prescriptions on the back of toilet doors? ‘Spread the warmth’ yourself on your social media accounts? Organise a food parcel for a local charity to raise awareness? The list is goes on…
We all have a responsibility to keep ourselves and loved ones as well as we can over the winter; it doesn’t have to be all about adverts and posters. Let’s get creative and make a difference on the ground.
No time? Too much to do? Targets to hit? Talk to the ICE team about how we can support you to make better happen; we’ve been activating communities across the country since 1999.
Together, we can really make a difference this winter.
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org