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Public Meetings

Public meetings can be an effective way to get key health messages directly to the public, build community relationships, and learn about your target audiences. But they can also be daunting—emotions can run high, and people may direct these emotions at you and your organization.

  • Consider alternatives to large, public hearings, which can be difficult to manage. Hold smaller, more informal meetings (or even one-on-one conversations) when possible.
  • Establish clear goals for the meeting.
  • Know your audience. Who are they and where are they from? What are their interests and concerns? What are their likely perceptions and biases? Will they be receptive, resistant, or even hostile?

What Would You Do?

A parent at an elementary school in your jurisdiction goes to the media in a panic after learning a child at the school has MRSA. A number of parents become anxious and accuse the school of endangering children. What would you do to respond?

What They Did

A health department in Idaho issued an immediate press release with information on community-acquired MRSA. The department also scheduled a town meeting to allow parents to vent, ask questions, and defuse the situation. It worked. Nurses stayed for two hours until they'd answered everyone's questions. Not everyone left happy, but they thanked the department for all the information and for addressing every question.