Highlights from the National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media

Venton Jones

Venton Jones

Earlier this month, attended the 5th Annual National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing and Media in Atlanta, Georgia. The conference was hosted by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Public Health Information Coalition Exit Disclaimer (NPHIC), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and National Cancer Institute (NCI).  Naima Cozier, Trainer, presented on geolocation and the HIV/AIDS Prevention & Service Provider Locator. She told us, “As public health professionals, HIV/AIDS activists, and providers, we can become engulfed in our work and can lose sight of the reality around us. Listening for the day-to-day context of the audience we are trying to reach, can inspire of innovation and new ideas that will hopefully lead to an increased impact of our health messages.”

We asked Venton Jones from the National Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition to share some of his thoughts for the HIV Community. Here’s what he had to say:

The theme was “Listening for Change.”  The theme resonated with me as an activist working in communications for the National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition Exit Disclaimer. In the HIV/AIDS epidemic, we must work to discover new and creative ways of engaging communities we serve in order to prevent new HIV infections and link HIV positive individuals to life-saving care. In order to be able to effectively listen to our communities, we must have the tools to effectively communicate with a wide variety of audiences. This also means utilizing new media outlets and combining it with traditional media (e-mail, press releases, TV, newspaper). With the emergence of new media (Facebook, Twitter, blogging) and public health’s acknowledgment of its importance in our communication efforts, it is critical that we not only use it as a tool to disseminate messages, but also to listen.

In this resource-tapped environment, many community organizations only have a small number of staff, or even one staff person, to manage communications for their entire organization.  Alone, this can be a challenging task having to manage a web site, blog, press releases, traditional media, social media etc. In addition to communication objectives, staff quite often juggle additional job responsibilities. Thankfully technology is on our side.  Many new services and inexpensive gadgets have been created to help assist communication efforts. A helpful tool I took from the conference was a communications resource list Exit Disclaimer developed by communications guru Kerry Shearer Exit Disclaimer. Another helpful tool for communicators is the CDC’s Social Media Toolkit (PDF 3.8 MB).

As we move forward in addressing HIV, it is critical that we continue to utilize our complete toolkit of resources creating bi-lateral relationships, disseminating a variety of multimedia messages, and gathering community feedback as we continue to listen, take action, and make change a reality.


  1. My name is Melissa, and I currently work for an AIDS Care organization in Virginia. We rely heavily on private donors, as do many nonprofits through these tough economic times, and most of our donor base are older, white, gay couples, mostly male. However, our client base is largely AA. I’ve tried discussing with a couple of local civic leaders how to engage the AA community, especially the educational environment with local AA colleges and universities, and bring them on board with activities and fundraisers….it’s such a touchy subject encompassing not only race but sexuality and the potential stigma that hangs on to HIV/AIDS that even the civic leaders were a bit stumped as to how to reach out to the AA community without risking insulting, offending, or placing the social status of our nonprofit in danger.

    Do you have any ideas on how to bridge the gap between our older, white, gay, male donor base and our client base that is largely slightly younger, AA, gay and straight, and about half female?

    Thanks in advance for any advice that you could give!

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