The Strategy component of the Framework for Successful Messaging refers to the upfront thinking and planning that helps messages to succeed. There is no single “best” suicide prevention message that will work for every messenger, goal, audience, and context. Thinking strategically helps you to create messages that fit your situation and use limited resources wisely.
Start with strategy. It’s tempting to jump directly into writing messages or picking delivery channels (“we should make posters!”) For better results, start by deciding why you’re messaging, who you want to reach, and what you want the audience to do differently after hearing the message.
“Given the safety risks and complexity inherent in public messaging campaigns on suicide prevention, project planning is crucial to the campaign’s success.” Chambers DA et al. (2005).
Strategy is a way of thinking. No message should be disseminated to the public without deciding the “why, who, what, and how” of it. Some efforts such as campaigns are best developed using a strategic planning process. Equally important is day-to-day strategic thinking about messaging. Routinely asking yourself strategic questions (what’s my goal? who’s my audience? what do I want them to do?) will make your all of your communications more focused and effective. Without pausing to reflect, you risk merely adding to the clutter of messages without having any impact¾or worse, creating something that has the opposite effect of what you intended.
Strategy is important for all types of messaging. Here’s some quotes from expert sources:
Communications planning guides like Making Health Communications Campaigns Work can walk you through a step-by-step planning and strategy development process like this one. See more strategy resources here.
The quotes above are just a few examples. All types of communications planning should start with strategy development.
The Framework for Successful Messaging is a project of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention.
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The Action Alliance is supported by grants (1 U79 SM059945; 3 U79 SM059945) from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). No official endorsement by SAMHSA or DHHS for the information on this website is intended or should be inferred.
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