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Familiarity in Public Health Messaging

As public health marketers it is our goal to get communities to follow through with policy and guidelines. Too often, public health policy is seen as intrusive and invasive by the communities it is trying to help. Therefore, it is imperative for public health marketers to make new public health policy seem as familiar as possible by likening it to already established norms.

Introducing Initiatives

Introducing new public health initiatives can be difficult for public health marketers. It can be hard for communities to see the value in changes, especially when they change the way they live their lives. For example, at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic it was difficult to get western populations to wear a facial covering in public. Regions that were successful in their ‘mask-up’ efforts did so by likening wearing a mask to other safety precautions that we take every day.

Making the Unfamiliar Familiar

In American culture we highly value our independence and personal freedoms and often lose sight of what is best for our collective good. To many people, being told to wear a mask outright was seen as an attack on their personal liberty and bodily autonomy. Conversely, in regions where wearing a mask was likened to established norms like wearing a seat belt in a car or a helmet on a motorcycle, people were more open and willing to wear a facial covering in public. By associating wearing a facial covering with already accepted safety guidelines, public health marketers were able to better convince populations to wear facial coverings and consequently lower their region’s infection rates.

Introducing new public health policy can be an uphill battle, and it is the job of public health marketers to make new policies seem as attractive and beneficial as possible. Likening new policies to those that area already well established and accepted can make this job easier by making people feel more familiar with the changes being made. Connecting new policy to those already accepted by the community will make implementation easier and help communities thrive.

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