Where this Guide Fits into an Overall Communication Plan
Developing a communication plan involves many steps. This guide will help you accomplish just one
of them – designing your health communication materials.
There are several things to do before you start:
Identify the intended audience and define the key health
problem/s or interest/s.
Get to know the intended audience to help determine
their key characteristics, including gender, race/ethnicity,
location, beliefs, behaviors, culture, literacy skills, and
current knowledge about the identified topic.
Determine key messages. Be sure to test them with the
intended audience to ensure they will be received
Determine the best way to communicate messages to the
audience (i.e., print, audio, video).
Decide how to distribute the materials to the audience
(i.e., mail, brochure display, web page).
An early step in the development process is determining
whether the intended audience needs or wants the information
your material will provide. This ensures that funds and staff
time will be used wisely. Learning about the interests, needs,
and values of the intended audience allows for more targeted
materials. Knowing the best ways to reach your audience will
help to decide on the most effective format and design for your materials.
Steps for Developing Health
That Are Evidence-Based and User
Identify intended audience and
define/research the key health
problems or interests
Engage the intended audience-
determine what their needs,
beliefs/values, and interests are,
and their level of knowledge of the
identified health topic
Determine key concepts and
messages based on knowledge of
Design a draft of the material
Pretest materials with intended
Tweak draft according to feedback
from the audience
Publish and distribute materials
Evaluate the audiences’ satisfaction
Once you have developed a draft of your material, be sure to pretest it with the intended audience.
Pretesting helps ensure that the message you send is the message your intended audience receives,
rather than some other interpretation. Make appropriate revisions to your materials according to the
findings of the pretest.
The final steps in developing health communication materials are to market it and distribute it, and re-
evaluate its effectiveness in communicating key messages to your intended audience. This guide does
not discuss all of these steps, but Appendix B contains a list of resources to help you through many
aspects of communication planning.