Learning Objectives: Assess organizational strengths and limitations of current communication and advocacy resources as they relate the development of a multi-vehicle communication system.
Abstract: Problem/Objective - With effectiveness comes the inevitable attempts to politically undermine comprehensive tobacco control efforts. Policy makers need factual tobacco prevention information from state agencies, yet 'validate' data through consistent constituent voices. The 2002 Minnesota legislative session saw multiple tobacco prevention endowment attacks, requiring strong and coordinated community advocacy - an ideal test for the effectiveness of a multi-vehicle communication model.
Method - Through assessment of both Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and grantee communication needs, MDH developed multiple communication tools including an initiative website, weekly list-serv, quarterly newsletter, and 'telephone tree' type message relay via grant managers. Using relevant health, economic and evaluation data the MDH communication/policy team created standard messaging, delivered to grantees through the above communication tools. Grantees tailored the information to highlight local stories of need and success and delivered personalized messages to lawmakers via direct contact and local television, print and radio news.
Results - Although at time of submission the legislature hadn't adjourned, clear indication existed that consistent, complementary messages were effectively delivered to state legislators. Anecdotal reports from legislative staff indicated steady message reinforcement provided political backing for supportive legislators to remain committed to the endowment and opposing legislators to reassess the depths and justifications of their funding cuts.
Discussion - While MDH's role is to develop and purvey statistical evidence, we found legislative support at times more easily achieved and reinforced by non-agency messengers. MDH representatives will discuss the precise communication tactics and timing that allowed for effective message transference from MDH to grantees to lawmakers.
Multi Vehicle Model - NCTH 2002.ppt (131.0 kb)
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