Community Health Awarenness Campaign
Integrated Communication Campaign Helps Retain Funding for Community Health Centers
Faced with decreasing funding from the Connecticut Legislature and low awareness of the value of community health care centers to the state’s health and economy, the Connecticut Primary Care Association (CPCA) retained our agency to help them develop and execute a strategic public relations campaign to retain funding for the community health centers, as well as HUSKY and SAGA programs for low-income Connecticut families that would otherwise be medically uninsured.
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After interviewing senior staff members, patients and staff at individual health centers, we developed a public relations plan that narrowed the perception gap between the health centers and their audiences. By thoroughly understanding the patient and staff experience, we were able to create messages that raised awareness of the value of community health centers. A key component of this strategic plan was to build consensus internally so that front-line staff would continually educate press, patients and boards. We developed public relations toolkits and held training workshops to prepare health center staff and their board members to take advantage of publicity opportunities. FEC provided the individual centers with access to a centralized photo library, as well as website templates. Rather than forcing centers to follow a centralized plan, CPCA and We provided the necessary tools, training and messaging, and encouraged them to participate. As a result, each center promoted its own value to the community it served, as well as the community health care system on a statewide basis.
CPCA’s plan included strategies to bring their message to public policy makers. We developed a position paper that deﬁned the role of CPCA as a leader in public health and ﬁscal responsibilities, overcoming perceptions of the association as a charity or social service agency. Other projects supported this leadership role and ultimately brought attention and focus to the importance of health centers’ work. we produced and directed a public service announcement with Governor M. Jodi Rell, a breast cancer survivor, which explained the health centers’ important role in providing statewide health for uninsured women. We provided counsel to health center staff and citizens testifying before the legislature, resulting in personal testimony and real-life stories directed to policy makers when key decisions were pending. We also coordinated a photography exhibit at the State Capital showcasing personal stories of quality health care, and assisted CPCA with media relations efforts by arranging editorial meetings and submitting op-ed pieces and letters to the editor to key publications. This proactive and reactive strategy helped to promote CPCA’s commitment to state health and correct misperceptions. Through this activity, the media began to view CPCA as a valued information source, which created additional opportunities for editorial meetings, national TV coverage and fostered a community health center visit and tour from Senator Joseph Lieberman. For the ﬁrst time, Connecticut community health centers were taking an active role in public health issues.
CPCA’s long-term integrated communications plan has resulted in extended state ﬁnancial support of both the HUSKY and SAGA programs. Severe projected budget cuts to these programs have been greatly reduced; enabling community health centers to provide care to uninsured and underinsured Connecticut citizens. Also, the consensus at the level of individual community health centers has created the foundation of a strong public position.