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Kristin Pace: Communication Strategies that Make a Difference

Kristin Pace, PhD, will teach the Health Communication course at the 2015 Summer Institute for Public Health Practice. She shares a little about her passion for this topic and what participants will learn from the course.
Kristin Pace: Communication Strategies that Make a Difference

Summer Institute instructor Kristin Pace, PhD

Kristin Pace, PhD, will teach the Health Communication course at the 2015 Summer Institute for Public Health Practice. She shares a little about her passion for this topic and what participants will learn from the course.

April 15, 2015

2015 Summer Institute instructor Kristin Pace, PhD, will teach this year's communication course for the first time. She brings a blend of classroom and real world experience to the course and is excited to share what she knows with new scholars.

Tell us how you got into public health and public health education.
I majored in communication and public relations as an undergrad. My education was very applied and focused on event planning. Throughout my schooling, I always wanted to know why the strategies and tactics we used would work. I felt that there was more to know about how to shape behaviors and perceptions. These questions prompted me to pursue a master’s and a doctoral degree in communication.

A defining moment in my education was reading about environmental health campaigns where the campaigners really sought to understand the motivations of their target audience. The professor asked if anyone wanted to do that sort of work for a living, and I was the only one in the class who raised a hand. This led me down a path of really trying to understand the theory behind changing behaviors for good.

In addition to teaching, what other projects are you working on?
I currently work with the Local Hazardous Waste Management Program in King County, Washington. Much of my work is about understanding our audience base so we can develop more effective services and resources.

I am also working on evaluating the use of a train-the-trainer outreach model in several underserved, non-English speaking communities; developing a campaign to increase the use of one of our hazardous waste disposal sites; and conducting audience research with businesses to inform the redesign of some of our business services.

You have a wide variety of public health communication experiences. What important lessons have you learned about communicating that might be helpful to Summer Institute scholars?
The biggest lesson I have learned is to understand the barriers and motivators of your audience. You can have the most helpful message and the most creative way to share information with others, but if it is not framed and presented in a way that is accessible to the audience, you will not be successful.

Why is communication so important to public health?
I believe that much of what we do as public health professionals centers around communication. By being a skilled communicator, we can make a difference in our communities.

What can scholars expect from your Health Communication course?
This course is a great opportunity for us to learn from one another. Our collective experiences will allow us to grow and challenge one another. The class will provide different examples and resources for participants to draw from, and the course activities will allow participants to directly apply strategies and tactics to their work. After taking the course, it should be easier for participants to work through the process of a health communication effort. We’ll cover key strategies and tactics like how to manage the planning and development, implementation, and evaluation of health communication efforts. Specifically, students will learn how to draw information from target audiences in order to develop relevant strategies and messages.

Who would be an ideal participant for your course?
The ideal participant is someone who has a little bit of experience working on public health related projects and is open to sharing their experiences and learning from others.

Do you have any favorite communication resources related to your course content?
One of my go-to books is Rice & Atkin’s Public Communication Campaigns. It's a great anthology of examples written by leaders in the field. While it is not directly related to public health, there is a lot of value in Robert Cialdini’s Influence: Science and Practice when it comes to understanding human behavior.

Public health is challenging work. How do you stay motivated?
I just remind myself every day that if I make the difference in one person’s life, I have made a difference.

For more information about this and other courses, visit the Summer Institute site. Early bird rates end June 1, 2015.

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