When you turn on the tap water and it’s safe to drink, you’re seeing public health at work.
If you swim in a clean lake, enjoy a safe meal, or have parental support, that’s public health too. And that’s just the beginning.
We spend our days protecting the health of all people and places in Pierce County. And our communications team lets you know about important health news and helps you find services.
As deputy director of the health department and director of our administrative services, communication is part of my teams. I see firsthand how much they care as they work on creative communication strategies to help you find the COVID-19 vaccine, alert you to beach closures, and encourage you to quit smoking.
Organizations like the Puget Sound Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) have also taken notice. PRSA is the premier organization for communications professionals in the United States, and this chapter represents most of western Washington.
Earlier this month, I attended a PRSA ceremony where our communications staff received two team awards:
- Summit Award for Community Relations Program: “Leveraging Partnerships to Build Trust and Vaccinate Pierce County” –We faced an arduous mission in 2021. We had to vaccinate as many of our nearly one million people as possible. Our work with community partners has allowed us to reach a wider audience and immunize hundreds of thousands of people.
- PRSA Certificate of Excellence: Digital Media—Digital and social media are important means of disseminating information in the 21st century. Our Trusted Messenger program has leveraged valuable voices in the community and amplified their stories in videos, blogs and social media.
We share these honors with the community members and staff who participated in both campaigns. Thank you for your valued partnerships.
Our Communications Officer, Edie Jeffers, also received the Chapter’s Public Relations Professional of the Year award. The award recognizes the region’s most outstanding communicator who has helped establish a relationship between an organization and the public.
- Public Relations Professional of the Year Award—In 10 years as a communications and community relations manager in the health department, Edie has embraced her roles as a communications expert and mentor. She developed a team of leaders and ensured a solid foundation in strategic communications planning, branding and outspokenness. Edie and her team have trained hundreds of staff to focus their writing to better connect with readers and listeners. Edie partnered with people from the agency and Pierce County to create messaging strategies that unite people around common public health goals and shared understanding.
Many Seattle-based advertising and public relations firms also competed for awards. An out-of-state PRSA chapter chose the winners. We are honored that they have recognized the essential role of public health communications in protecting communities.
Our data shows our messages resonated with people, even as some grew weary of the pandemic. Last year, people visited our COVID-19 vaccine webpage more than 1.9 million times and more than 780,000 people saw our Facebook posts at least once. And over 120,000 of you have signed up to receive email messages from us.
This is the second consecutive year that PRSA has honored our work. Last year, our team received a Summit Award for our social media, a Summit Award for our website, and a Certificate of Excellence in Crisis Communications for our work on COVID-19.
These awards and the trust you place in the Department of Health are a credit to all of our staff. They are invested in the idea that we should make every word count and demonstrate excellent customer service when working in the community to protect your health.
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