For public health professionals and advocates who want to communicate more effectively with the housing, education, health systems, and business sectors about the value of collaboration
Share vivid success stories that link cross-sector collaborations to the concrete benefits they deliver
The Goal & The Challenge
When the goal is…to show other sectors that collaboration is possible and practical, and that it not only can but actually has worked…
The challenge is…that the burden of proof is high. Even when other sectors see collaboration with public health as potentially beneficial, they still struggle to see it as feasible. Unfortunately, many well-known success stories, which could in theory provide some clarity and guidance about what the field can offer, often reinforce traditional public health roles. This fact, combined with existing perceptions of public health professionals as impractical “big thinkers” rather than hands-on “doers,” only exacerbates the feeling that collaboration is a fine but abstract idea—and often just not in the cards.
When You Say…Cross-sector collaborations yield substantial benefits. Not only do they create health in the community, but they also support sector-specific goals.
They Think… What would that even look like? I know that public health promotes the safety and importance of vaccines, but there’s also a lot of controversy about those. We can’t afford complications like that in our organization. Our sector is under enough pressure as it is.
Framing can help
Framing can help bring concrete evidence of the benefits of collaboration to bear. By drawing on recent and detailed success stories, involving actual initiatives by real people in identified places, communications can convincingly answer the “but how?” question that lingers in prospective collaborators’ minds.
An effective reframe would look something like this:
Public health and housing leaders can design collaborations that benefit the community and their own missions at the same time. This is illustrated by the example of nonprofit affordable housing developers in [city name]. When the developers noticed that high rates of mental illness among residents were contributing to housing instability, they sought assistance from the city’s public health department to launch free, on-site support groups as well as mental health programming focused on preventive self-care. Since the program’s inception, there has been a significant decrease in turnover, which has cut overhead expenses and reduced maintenance costs. Most important, residents report feeling more connected to their neighbors, and motivated to contribute to a vibrant community atmosphere.
Remember, the reframe isn’t a ready-made talking point. It’s a sample iteration that models the framing recommendation in action.