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State University of New York

Connect with Diverse Audiences during a Public Health Crisis

State University of New York via Coursera

Overview

Public health communicators have a duty to communicate health information with integrity, accuracy, and clarity. For messaging to be most effective, public health communicators must help their audiences draw meaningful connections with the information being shared, and connect with them in ways that foster trust and credibility.

This course emphasizes how public health communicators can segment their audiences into smaller groups, thereby allowing them to tailor messages to each group's unique needs. You will explore how public health communicators recognize and overcome underlying biases, assumptions, and stereotypes to create messaging that is rooted in empathy, as well as leverage persuasive communication strategies to frame and deliver messages in ways that appeal to audiences’ core values. You will learn to approach media interviews with confidence, adjust your communication strategy in the moment, and center your focus on your audiences and their needs.

Syllabus

  • AUDIENCE SEGMENTATION
    • People's culture, history, and lived experiences affect how they interpret and engage with health-risk information. Without acknowledging these influences, public health communicators may struggle to successfully engage their audiences with the information at hand. This module explores how public health communicators can segment their audiences into smaller groups, thereby allowing them to tailor messages to each group's unique needs.
  • APPLY EMPATHY TO CONNECT WITH AN AUDIENCE
    • To motivate people to act on health information, public health communicators must be able to make that information relevant to their audiences, and connect with them in ways that foster trust and credibility. One way to connect with audiences is through empathy. Taking the time to understand where they are coming from, and acknowledging their perspectives regardless of the accuracy of those perspectives, shows people that you care. This module explores how public health communicators can recognize and overcome underlying biases, assumptions, and stereotypes to create messaging that is rooted in empathy.
  • PERSUASIVE COMMUNICATION
    • Whether public health messages are successful at motivating people to adopt a recommended action, is driven largely by the person or entity communicating that information, and the structural components of the message itself. This module explores how public health communicators can leverage persuasive communication strategies, to frame and deliver their messages in ways that appeal to their audience’s core values.
  • MEDIA INTERVIEWS: CONNECTING WITH INTERVIEWERS AND VIEWERS
    • For some audiences, a media interview is the only channel through which they will encounter important health and safety information during a public health crisis. During an interview, public health communicators must convey high stakes information in a short amount of time, connect with the viewers, and convince them to adopt actionable steps to protect themselves. This module explores how public health communicators can approach media interviews with confidence, and shift their attention outward with a greater focus on their audience(s).

Taught by

Brenda MacArthur, Ph.D.

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