Back from NCHCMM – Feeling Inspired and Connected

Aug 22

This was my first NCHCMM.  Wasn’t sure what to expect but was very excited for my colleagues who were presenting on outstanding projects – see Emily Zeigenfuse’s earlier post on the Ogilvy sessions at the conference.  I was also looking forward to seeing old friends and colleagues–and meeting new ones.

What I didn’t expect is to come back refreshed and inspired by all the innovative projects happening around the country and by the energy, enthusiasm, and creativity of my fellow public health communicators.  As someone who works at the national level, I especially appreciated meeting and talking with folks who work at the state and local levels.  So many great stories about their experiences and challenges with creating healthier communities.  And I truly enjoyed the sessions that brought it back to the basics – why we love this work, why it matters, and how can we can do it better.  They helped me to see the forest again.

Some of my personal highlights:

  • Watching Jennifer Pahlka’s TED Talk on making government run better – permission-less and open like the Internet – and brainstorming ways to encourage citizens to get involved in solving public health issues.  Many of our ideas got posted on TalkBacktoTED.
  • Learning how a small budget smoking cessation campaign in Vermont underwent a research-based rebranding effort, which resulted in the 802Quits campaign.  (For non-Vermonters, 802 is the Vermont area code. The state is so small, they have one area code.)  The work is beautiful, powerful, and spot on in every way.  But, what’s more important is the outcome: large increases in visits to the website, orders of nicotine-replacement therapy products, and calls to the helpline.
  • Exploring the importance of storytelling.  With the theme of the conference being “What’s Your Story?,” many sessions focused on the importance of telling good stories about our work and about the impact of our efforts.  Opening keynote presenter and author, Paul Smith, defined story very simply: Fact + Emotion = Story.  And he emphasized that we tend to not remember facts, but we can’t forget a good story.  How true!  Throughout the conference, we heard/watched many compelling stories — and one session focused on how to tell stories.    This is near and dear to my Ogilvy heart, where we have focused on the importance of story telling for many years (long before it was ‘en mode’) and our new-ish CEO, Chris Graves, is an international storytelling evangelist and trainer.

For next year, I hope to see the focus shift on how to find personal stories and make them into compelling testimonials.  I can say from experience that getting real people stories is not easy, especially for professionals who impact public health at the population level.  802Quits works at the individual level through its quit-line counselors and even their team had a difficult time finding stories and getting folks to agree to be video taped.  Case in point: it took them 18 months to find a story about a pregnant woman who quit smoking using the quit line.

A big Ogilvy thanks to the CDC and NPHIC organizers for a great conference and to all the presenters who put lots of thought and preparation into their sessions.  It was a great experience and I’m already thinking about 2015.

This entry was posted on Friday, August 22nd, 2014 at 2:36 pm and is filed under Behavior Change, HCSM, Public Health, Social Marketing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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