Melissa Mauldin

In the midst of a public health crisis, people expect and rely on factual and timely information. Our national opioid crisis is a perfect example of the growing need for accurate data and scientifically backed tips and treatment methods.

Most of us go to the web as a first step to find information, making it even more important that top search results provide relevant, factual information.

In a rare move, Google recently began restricting ads served when visitors used the search engine to search for addiction treatment centers. With so many people experiencing the disease of addiction, drug treatment has grown into a $35 billion market. Too many businesses paid for ads to direct those seeking information on recovery centers to their sites. A person typing “drug rehabilitation near me” was directed, in many cases, to businesses with only a tenuous connection to professional drug treatment.

Professionals in the drug treatment field praised Google’s decision, which Google officials made in consultation with recovery experts. Google’s decision followed a story by The Verge explaining how unethical businesses, and even fraudulent enterprises, use AdWords to direct the public to their sites.
The issue highlighted the importance of sharing good, substantiated, public health information to the growing audience. It not only helped remove untrustworthy information from Google searches, but it also removed much of the visual clutter, allowing critical messaging to reach the people who need it.

Recently declared a national public emergency by President Donald Trump, the opioid epidemic represents one of the deadliest public health crises to face the nation, resulting in more than 64,000 deaths—half of which resulted from legally prescribed opioids.
Like any crisis, strategic, timely and effective communication plays a critical role. For decades, public health organizations have long understood medical science and communication are essential to protect the public’s health.

At A. Bright Idea, our passion, not only for cause marketing, but cause communication, runs deep, particularly when it comes to public health education and treatment on drug and alcohol abuse. Our work with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Bel Air Center for Addictions applies the latest scientific knowledge to our communications and outreach. Those federal and private sector clients recognize getting their message out to the public requires both sound public health science and policies, coupled with effective communication strategies. It is essential to communicate scientific information in ways the public can understand and learn from, helping to make changes in their lives or to help loved ones.

When crafting a message, whether that be public service announcements, editorial columns, speeches or fact sheets, you must understand not only the goal of the message, but the audience. What will make this resonate? How will they respond? What do you want them to do next? How can they take that message and share it further? In some cases, that involves using spokespersons with social media influence, or developing information graphics to demonstrate key data points in a highly visual way, or sharing personal testimonials to help the audience form an emotional understanding or connection.

With the death toll rising from the misuse of opioids, the public needs that partnership of treatment experts and communicators more than ever. We’re proud to support great organizations in the fight and help to educate those in need build stronger communities. Helping people find their way is one of the most emotionally rewarding work we can do.

Shawn Nesaw

President Roosevelt in one of his famous “Fireside Chats”

Let’s take a trip back to 1933. President Franklin D. Roosevelt began making informal radio addresses to the American public during the Great Depression. Never before had a U.S. President conducted regular and informal communications to the American public. The President used this format to address the public multiple times per year, and these communications were considered enormously successful, attracting more listeners than the most popular radio shows.
Now, move forward to our current President Barack Obama, who provides his addresses in both audio and video forms, and both are available online via whitehouse.gov and YouTube. The first Presidential candidate to jump into social media with both feet, President Obama connected with the American public on a new level and on a level that today many Americans prefer.
Both Presidents used the communication mediums of the time in new ways to reach the target audience. But who is the pioneer? The communicator or the technology it’s now carried on? We’ve created so many different communication methods over time – from hieroglyphics in 3000BC, to messengers on horseback, to the first electric telegraph in 1831 – the delivery method evolves while the purpose of communication remains the same.
Yet, in considering the true definition of communication – the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions or information by speech, writing or signs – only certain mediums allow for response to the message and closing the loop on communication. The true pioneering may be in harnessing the technology to make communication more effective by breaking down mass media with individualized delivery and mechanisms for feedback.
Want to go back in time? Here President Roosevelt outlines steps the government is taking to speed economic recovery – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXY7TkrPPzI