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Health Communication & Marketing

Getting the right public health message to the right audience

ORAU health communication and marketing professionals collaborate with leading public health organizations and share expertise and experiences in the United States and around the world.

Whether delivering preventive health messaging on vaccines in Asia, preventing transmission of Ebola in Africa, containing pandemic flu in the Americas, or addressing the opioid challenge in Appalachia, the ORAU team builds effective communication strategies and creates interventions and products tailored to specific audiences facing serious health issues.

ORAU develops measurable health communication interventions to effectively reach high-risk audiences in an effort to prevent or mitigate critical health concerns. Our experts employ proven marketing strategies and innovative technologies to disseminate tailored disease prevention messages and materials.

Man working at a computer

What we do

The ORAU health communication and marketing team can advise you on the most powerful approach to meeting your program’s needs. ORAU communication professionals start with a strong collaborative foundation with our client to create cost-effective health messaging, using formative research and concept testing to develop the right products. They utilize precise data collection instruments, program monitoring and evaluation to make sure you are reaching the right audiences and that audiences are responding favorably to the health messaging.

What we offer

  • Social marketing plan development, including concept discovery and design
  • Formative research, such as focus groups and online surveys
  • Product and resource development for print or electronic dissemination
  • Concept testing of proposed interventions
  • Writing and editing, including message mapping and message testing
  • Public and media relations, such as digital press kits and media buys
  • Audience specific and community-based interventions
  • Meeting, conference and expert panel support
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    Messaging strategies for drug use and overdose

    ORAU collaborated with the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to combat the opioid epidemic by training local partners to:

    • Increase communication capacity
    • Effectively reach target audiences through social media
    • Identify best practices specific to communicating about opioids in Appalachia
    • Replace negative and stereotypical narratives with more balanced and hopeful success stories

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    Reducing addiction stigma in the media

    ORAU and the University of Kentucky’s Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues (IRJCI) sponsored a workshop to reduce stigma and increase compassion for those suffering from opioid use disorder:

    • Journalists trained to better understand substance use and recovery helps to promote ethical reporting, reduce stigma, and inspire hope.
    • “Person-focused” word choices (e.g., person with opioid use disorder) promote compassion and reduce reinforcing the stigma of addiction.

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    Highlighting health communication and promotion strategies

    ORAU’s strategic approach to understanding and engaging with in-person and digital communities is recently showcased in a number of ways:

    • A social media hashtag campaign for the CDC, resulting in more than nine million Twitter impressions in the first month
    • Capacity building to improve opioid addiction communication strategies
    • Social listening research to identify vaccine hesitancy trends on Twitter

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    Improving awareness of breast cancer risk

    Women under the age of 45 account for more than one in 10 new cases of breast cancer. ORAU, in support of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed a number of communication and marketing campaigns to help improve awareness. The Bring Your Brave social and digital media campaign, Know:BRCA Education Campaign, and evaluation of the Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC) pilot program, are helping women better understand the risk factors and how to prevent breast cancer.

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    Is social media helping or hindering vaccination rates?

    A team from ORAU and the University of Georgia is characterizing the digital channels, principal arguments and communication message tactics used by pro-vaccine and anti-vaccine advocates across social media for three different types of vaccines. Funded by ORAU's ODRD program, this project is examines message tactics and other components that can be used as part of a digital strategy to improve vaccine messaging on social media in an effort to increase vaccination rates.

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See how we've helped our clients

I gave the highest marks to ORAU for helping to conceptualize, develop, and evaluate over 25 major projects including the development of web and social media-based tools and conducting research-based projects on cardiovascular health, heart disease and stroke prevention, diabetes, smoking, cancer, immunization, STD prevention, violence prevention, social marketing and emergency risk communication. Each of these projects were consistently high quality, on time and often under budget. The ORAU staff were people of integrity that were dependable—consistently delivering as promised.

Galen Cole PhD, MPH, LPC, WCP
CDC Senior Scientist and Project Officer (Retired)

Our Experts

Jennifer Reynolds

Jennifer Reynolds, M.P.H.

Expertise: Health communication, social marketing, social media, behavioral science research

Reynolds has more than 15 years of experience managing research, health communication, and social marketing projects for local, state, and federal entities and nonprofit agencies


Certification: Certified Health Education Specialist, ThinkTank Certified Facilitator, Certificate of Proficiency in Qualitative Research

LaFrancis Gibson

LaFrancis Gibson, M.P.H.

Expertise: Health education and training, health promotion, community outreach and engagement to special and underserved populations, formative research

Gibson has more than 10 years of experience working with federal agencies, HBCUs, MEIs, public health departments, community- and faith-based organizations and national organizations. Her specialties include consumer, medical, HIV/AIDS, toxicological and environmental health.

Certifications: Certified Health Education Specialist, ThinkTank Session Leader Training Course Certification

Kristin A. Mattson, M.P.H.

Kristin A. Mattson, M.P.H.

Expertise: Health education, communication, and promotion; social media, social marketing, qualitative research, training development and implementation

Mattson is a project manager leading strategic public health communication projects for her clients including federal, state, and local agencies and organizations. Prior to entering the public health field, Mattson earned a B.S. in Micro and Molecular Biology and worked in both education and healthcare.

Publications: Communicating about Opioids in Appalachia: Challenges, Opportunities, and Best Practices

Certification: Master Certified Health Education Specialist, ThinkTank Certified Facilitator, Certificate of Proficiency in Qualitative Research

Contact us

For information about ORAU’s health communication, preparedness and response solutions, contact Freddy Gray, director, Health Communication and Preparedness programs, at 865.576.0029 or