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SAMHSA’s Award-Winning Newsletter
September/October 2009, Volume 17, Number 5 

SAMHSA Highlights Strategic Communications Framework

SAMHSA discussed its strategic communications framework at the August meeting of the Third Annual National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media (see Conference Enhances Health Communication).

Created with input from SAMHSAs many stakeholders—both internal and external to the Agency—the framework was formed to align all SAMHSA efforts with the common goal of building resilience and facilitating recovery for people with or at risk for mental and substance use disorders. It provides a platform for aligning public health practice with evidence-based communications and marketing approaches and also establishes a common language among SAMHSA program staff, communications staff, and the field.

“Subject matter specialists and statisticians are experts in their areas, but they are not always aware of how marketing and communications efforts can target and expand the reach of the information they produce,” said SAMHSA Associate Administrator for Communications Mark A. Weber, M.B.A. “We want to help them articulate and disseminate their findings and best practices in the most effective way possible.”

The effort began in 2007 with a series of in-depth confidential interviews with stakeholders and thought leaders conducted by the Human Interaction Research Institute (HIRI). HIRI President Thomas E. Backer, Ph.D., described the process by which SAMHSA developed the strategic communications framework.

“We started by gathering information from the interviews,” he said. “This was followed by an analysis of the information, which we described in a report. The report was then distributed to all participants in the project to confirm and validate our findings and to enable them to suggest overall quality improvements. Finally, we prepared a strategic communications framework of the recommendations and distributed it as a working version to be modified during implementation.” Dr. Backer said that there have been at least three working versions of the strategic plan so far.

At the core of the framework is a template for creating communications and marketing plans to advance program goals. The template guides SAMHSA staff and their contractors and/or field partners in planning and executing a set of communications activities to do everything from creating and disseminating a product (such as a practice manual) to planning for a program (such as the Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services Program, developed by SAMHSA's Center for Mental Health Services).

The template is brief and serves as a checklist for communications planning. It is also technology-driven, helping users make optimal use of new communication vehicles such as interactive Web sites and eblasts targeted to specific audiences. SAMHSA is currently creating an online version of the template that will walk users through the planning process by offering a series of multiple-choice questions.

“Our emphasis on stakeholder participation in the development and evolution of this planning framework should bring a certain consistency to the communications process and enable SAMHSA to bring better health information more quickly to the people who need it,” Mr. Weber said.

Elements of a Communications Plan

To launch a communications plan, youll need to set a goal, identify your audience, decide on products, determine a format, and more. The following elements are part of a good communication plan and help you stay on track as your plan moves forward.

  • Goal—Whats the goal of the organization, program, or product?
  • Audiences—What audiences must be reached and what behavior changes are needed to achieve this goal?
  • Information or Products—What will be delivered to these audiences to reach the goal?
  • Formats—What print or electronic formats will be used to structure the information or products?
  • Life Cycle—Whats the expected life of the information or products?
  • Marketing—What channels and messages will be used to disseminate the information or products, with what kind of overall marketing strategy?
  • Budget—Whats the budget and funding source for this effort?

Source: Excerpt from SAMHSAs Communications Planning Template




  Cover Story & Related Articles  
Recovery: A Philosophy of Hope and Resilience

Recovery: A Philosophy of Hope and Resilience




  Treatment Updates  
Treating Alcohol Disorders with Medication

Treating Alcohol Disorders with Medication

A set of guidelines for use of effective medications, such as naltrexone.

Guidance for Change

Guidance for Change

Substance abuse treatment programs: Here’s a way to integrate evidence-based practices into their services.

Treating Opioid Addiction

Treating Opioid Addiction

Three new educational brochures for patients on medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction are available.


  Suicide Awareness  
Dealing with Suicide Loss

Dealing with Suicide Loss

To help support survivors of suicide loss, a new guide for funeral directors.

National Study on Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors

National Study on Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors

Nearly 8.3 million adults had serious thoughts of suicide in the past year.


  Grants  
Recent Awards

Recent Awards

Millions of dollars in SAMHSA funding is heading to state and community programs.

Tips on Writing a Winning Proposal

Tips on Writing a Winning Proposal

Boost your chances of crafting a winning grant proposal by following an expert’s advice.


  Communications  
Highlights of Recent Conference

Highlights of Recent Conference

New ways to engage partners and the public in improving health through an ongoing dialogue.

Strategic Communications Framework

Public health practice aligns with evidence-based communications to help establish “a common language.”


  Recovery Month  
Recovery Month Launched

Recovery Month Launched

20th anniversary events across the country marked this year’s celebrations, which included a march across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Photo Gallery

SAMHSA’s Dr. Westley Clark, Director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, joined other VIPs to celebrate.


  New Survey Data  
National Survey Shows Overall Drug Use Steady at 8 Percent

National Survey Shows Overall Drug Use Steady at 8 Percent

Among 12- to 17-year-olds, a significant decline was reported in past-month illicit drug use.


  Prevention Update  
FASD Awareness Day

FASD Awareness Day

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Day emphasized the message, “If you’re pregnant, don’t drink alcohol.”


  Special Populations  

Hispanics

An annual average of 2.6 million Hispanics age 12 or older needed alcohol use treatment in the past year.

American Indians

A recent report examines the 335 identified facilities serving the American Indian and Alaska Native population in 2007.

Race and Ethnicity

New data focus on the need for treatment for substance use and depression among adults age 18 or older by race/ethnicity.


  Also in this Issue  
Statistics on Mental Health Groups

Statistics on Mental Health Groups

Of the 28.8 million adults who received mental health treatment in the past year, about 5.5 percent also received support from a self-help group.

Science and Service Awards

Science and Service Awards

Categories for this year’s awards to 27 organizations included substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery support services, and more.

GlassBook Project

GlassBook Project

Trauma awareness through art was the topic of a recent presentation as part of SAMHSA’s Consumer Affairs Seminar Series.



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