Last week, the New York Times posted an opinion piece on the merits of public health initiatives. The authors, economist Austin Frakt and pediatrician Aaron E. Carroll, make the case that public health campaigns deliver outsized return on investment in term of broadly improving health in the U.S. in areas such as smoking and diabetes.

Interestingly, a central point to the article states what I believe is a herald for public relations professionals. Under the subheading, “Public health needs better public relations,” the authors write: “Perhaps the biggest change needed is for public health to do a better job at trumpeting its success. Too often, it seems to be the unsung hero.”

Indeed, while public health agencies do a great job of creating solutions, they often fall short communicating their approaches and successes. This point deserves greater examination for public relations professionals.

“Public health” encompasses all the programs, policies, and practices needed to keep populations of people, and the communities in which they live, healthy—both in and outside of the clinical setting.

I’ve worked in various positions in public health for more than a decade, beginning on the policy and regulatory side of public health, and now in public relations. Like Mr. Frakt and Dr. Carroll, it is surprising to me how many innovative approaches and breakthrough results are achieved but go unrecognized.

Most of us are familiar with the major public health headlines: the opioid crisis and continuing confusion around what to do to resolve it; the devastating impact that water contamination continues to have on communities in Flint, Michigan; the recently announced record-high S.T.D. rate.

But the State Targeted Response to Opioid Crisis Grants? The impact of the U.S. Public Health Services Act State Loan Repayment Program funding on physician shortages? The myriad innovations being done via Section 1115 Demonstration Waivers? All these programs are achieving amazing results, yet their impact is not being touted to a broader audience in an easy-to-understand way.

Public health professionals should seek to be more familiar with how thoughtfully planning out a public relations strategy could enhance public health initiatives. Some public agencies might feel like they shouldn’t use public money to promote their success, not realizing that publicity for a successful and innovative campaign doesn’t solely benefit their organization; it translates to additional outreach and education about the programs being implemented. Communicating approaches, lessons learned, and successes helps to expand the adoption of solutions.

Based on some first-hand observations and best practices, here are some thoughts on elevating public relations in public health:

To read the rest of the article please go to O’Dwyer’s website here.