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Attack Vaccine Hesitancy by Understanding Vaccine Communications Audiences

In order to overcome vaccine hesitancy, successful COVID vaccine communications will need to be agile and easily executed, but with an understanding of the audiences and barriers to messaging that each of those audiences might face. Starting a communications strategy from square one, when it comes to vaccine communications, will present large stumbling blocks for successful engagement. Understanding where you can leverage existing capabilities, while identifying the most pressing areas that lack capabilities, is vital.

Why Personas Are Important in Vaccine Communications

A key part of developing any communications strategy is understanding the target audience. With the help of research, communicators typically create personas, snapshots of the needs, motivations, goals, and pain points of their audience.

While personas are already important for many government communications strategies, the COVID vaccination process brings with it unique elements that require a broader approach to understanding the factors impacting an audience’s actions. Vaccine hesitancy, and the causes behind it, are key components that must be addressed when developing personas for a COVID vaccine communications campaign.

In order to better understand the differences in these audiences, Granicus Experience Group created a “vaccine audience spectrum” when helping the state of New Jersey develop personas for their vaccine communications. The spectrum breaks down into four audience groups:

  • Vaccinated
  • Those who want the vaccine
  • Those who are skeptical
  • Those who do not want the vaccine

Vaccine Persona Spectrum

Along this spectrum, the pain points faced by each persona could range from lack of awareness about vaccine availability to concerns about the vaccine’s health impacts to an outright distrust of the government.

COVID Vaccine Persona

While some of these pain points and concerns might already more closely align with typical government communications goals such as event awareness or information availability, overcoming mistrust and establishing a fuller understanding of vaccine safety and efficacy may require more attention to educational materials.

Is Your Vaccine Communications Content “Mature?”

The good news for many agencies dealing with how to address vaccine-related communications is that they are likely to have a communications structure already in place to meet the needs of their audiences. But is that structure “mature” enough to most effectively engage audiences and provide communications that will help achieve their vaccine communications objectives and goals?

“Engagement maturity” is another way of understanding how developed your communications framework is and how it will handle communicating mission-critical information, in this case, timely and accurate information regarding vaccine availability.

Digital engagement maturity looks at the strengths and opportunities of your communications in the following areas:

  • People: Having the right staff or community partners to implement digital strategies. Due to changes created by COVID-19, staff may find their resources either decentralized or incomplete. Using a service such as the Granicus Experience Group can help identify and compensate for any of those gaps.
  • Audience: Understanding the key stakeholders and targeted audiences, and having a strategy for capturing them.
  • Outcomes: Determining to what extent your engagement strategies align with overall objectives for this public health priority.
  • Solutions: Reviewing the channels available for content and ensuring that those channels provide the best chance for effective audience engagement. Are you reaching audiences where and when they are looking to be reached?
  • Reports: Are there systems in place to collect, define, and report on key metrics for continuous improvement?

While teams may have approached these areas when creating COVID-specific messaging, it’s important to revisit these areas as they apply to messaging around the vaccine process . This will help identify any areas where things have changed or need adjustment to better address vaccine messaging for a timely and effective delivery, in ways that reflect the changing perspectives of any updated audience personas.

Identifying Vaccine Communications Content Gaps

Armed with this information, you can create a needs matrix that highlights which personas need which content. This matrix can even help prioritize which content needs to go to audiences as soon as possible, which pieces are time-sensitive but not immediate, and which ones can provide longer-term educational opportunities.

Aligning content with the different phases of vaccine rollout is crucial to getting the right messages regarding the vaccine process in front of the right audience at the right time. Taking the time to do a brief audit of messaging content will help communicators get a better handle on the messaging that needs to be created.

Questions to consider during this audit include:

  • What messaging is currently being sent that can relate to vaccines?
  • How have current communications performed in the segments you are targeting for each phase of COVID vaccine distribution?
  • Have audiences been segmented to direct messaging that speaks to their needs effectively?
  • Are there differences in messaging for different communications channels? For different audiences?
  • Have audiences been segmented to direct messaging that speaks to their needs effectively?
  • What is the current size of the overall audience? How does this audience break down between communications channels?

From this review, communicators can better understand what content needs to be specifically tailored for both audiences and distribution channels. This audit may also identify areas where new audience capture points are possible as new vaccine topics, content, and messages are developed.

Getting Started

No matter where an agency is in communications maturity or audience segmentation, the changes to make an impactful COVID vaccine campaign can’t be overlooked. Look to the experts of Granicus Experience Group for help adapting and creating COVID vaccination communications campaigns with research and insight to audiences, and identifying the most effective content channels.

Learn more today!