Our Community of Practice is giving public health communicators a place to learn, share and cope with the Pandemic
Covid-19 reminded the world just how crucial effective communication is in a crisis. Public health communicators have been on the front lines of the pandemic for nearly two years, wrestling with new issues and needs nearly every week.
Communicators have faced challenges like never before, and they desperately need up-to-date information, insights about what kinds of messages and outreach are and aren’t working, and ideas they can put to use right away to protect people.
To meet this need, The Rockefeller Foundation partnered with Hattaway Communications to create a communications community of practice—a place for public health communicators to regularly gather, compare notes, and learn from leading experts.
We began in January 2021 with just over two dozen communicators from governors’ offices and public health agencies involved in the State and Territory Alliance for Testing (STAT), an initiative the Foundation launched to help states respond to Covid-19. As of December 2021, the community has convened 21 times and reached 950 participants from over 300 organizations.
Tips for Organizing a Community of Practice
Throughout this year, we’ve learned what to focus on when building this community of practice. These tips can help you build our own community of practice around shared topics and frustrations.
- Let the community guide, but make sure you lead: Regularly check in with your members and ask them for feedback and suggestions on what would be helpful to them. But they’re looking to you for new ideas, so keep your eye out for interesting, unusual, and breakthrough presenters who are not common knowledge so that your members learn something new each time.
- Respect their time: Structure your sessions so your audience knows what to expect and include a recap email or resources page for those who were unable to attend.
- Prioritize action: Think of how your audience will use the shared information. When putting together sessions, focus on actionable recommendations and share content that members can use right away
- Make time for real talk: Leave space for interaction and real-time workshops.