SCOPE Thought Piece, Question #6: How do we improve our ability to create and reinforce consistent messaging across campuses and schools?

Linda Langford, Sc.D.

The first question I would ask is “why are messages inconsistent?” One challenge is that campuses are decentralized, so in some cases the left hand simply doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. On other campuses, various departments may approach prevention work from different philosophical viewpoints, and points of disagreement may be more obvious than the shared messages. There are many possible ways to create more consistent messaging. Of course, a formal strategic planning process undertaken by a campus-wide task force or campus and community coalition is one approach to building a series of coordinated efforts that reinforce consistent messaging. Another approach might be to convene a series of meetings with campus and community stakeholders doing related work to provide an opportunity to learn of each other’s work with an explicit focus on identifying shared messages and brainstorming ways to reinforce them. There are other less formal options available as well. For example, practitioners can reach out to other individuals working in prevention and get to know their work over lunch or coffee. Such conversations may or may not reveal immediate opportunities for shared messaging. However, taking the time to learn about and understand others’ work and perspectives can form the basis of a professional relationship that results in more collaboration over the long term.

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