Housed in the Missouri School of Journalism, the Health Communication Research Center is a not-for-profit that provides evidence-based health communication support to clients who need targeted communication campaigns. Their work ranges from creating multimedia communication campaigns for Livable Street policies to tailoring sodium reduction messages for African Americans.
Community Commons and the Health Communication Research Center began their partnership in December 2015. For Community Commons, the partnership underscores their mission of using data and tools to tell stories that inspire and improve communities.
“Partnering with the Health Communication Research Center enables us to broaden our scope and reach of work,” Roxanne Medina-Fulcher, JD, Executive Director of IP3 said. “By working with a premier journalism school, like the Missouri School of Journalism, we have unique access to highly trained students and resources that allow us to amplify our capacity in bringing more data visualization tools and reports to the public.”
Clearly communicating what the data and reports mean is often a challenge, which is why many community development projects face resistance. From “it’s too expensive” to “that’s not the way things are done here”, building support for community change can be the biggest challenge of all.
“Much of the science and health messaging the public sees and hears is not communicated clearly. More importantly, many can’t understand how it relates to their life. It’s a problem, “ said Natalie Hampton, Program Coordinator for the HCRC. “Our mission is to breakdown the jargon and complex rhetoric surrounding today’s most pressing health issues into simple, engaging messages that not only resonate with the public, but spurs them to action.”
Livable/complete street policies is an example of how challenging it can be to get all stakeholders in a community on board. To reduce uncertainty, the HCRC works to educate communities and stakeholders on the social, health, and economic benefits of community development projects.
“We spend a lot of time in the field with our clients, getting to know the people they work with and issues that directly affect them. We’re able to humanize the issue and present it in a way that appeals to other communities and helps them think about an issue in a different way,” said Hampton.
According to Hampton, Community Commons’ benefits organizations, like the HCRC and stakeholders they work with, by providing not only extensive data lists, but also tools and reports that can be used to build compelling narratives that inspire and motivate community leaders to explore ways they can build stronger communities for all its residents.
(Here’s a video by the HCRC highlighting a Livable Streets project in Missouri)
Whether you’re trying to communicate the benefits of adopting livable streets policy or campaigning for smoke free public places, you not only need to rely on the data that supports your position, but it’s imperative that you use the data in a way that makes the issue salient for your stakeholders. That’s why collaborations between Community Commons and the Health Communication Research Center are important; both organizations use their expertise in ways that help the public see beyond the data to ways they can build stronger communities.