Spokespeople in public health: Important characteristics from the perspective of Australian public health professionalsLisa Buckley, Kylie Morphett, Lucie Rychetnik, Mary‐Anne Land, Katherine Cullerton
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Community and Home Care
Spokespeople play a significant role in communicating public health information yet there is little research understanding the characteristics of those who provide such messaging.
One hundred and four health professionals (70% female) recruited through professional association mailing lists in Australia completed a brief online quantitative and qualitative survey.
Participants reported characteristics they believed to be important for spokespeople, those that they believed their organisation considered important, and those they thought engendered public trust. Knowledge of public health issues, public speaking skills, and willingness to speak on behalf of the organisation were identified as important characteristics (by at least 70%). Qualitative results showed some participants distinguished between perceived, as well as actual, expertise, and described the potential for public health university programs to include public speaking and communication skills. Participants also identified an individual's role in the organisation was considered important in their organisation's selection of a spokesperson, particularly in relation to seniority and leadership.
The study provides an initial description and priority considerations from health professionals about key characteristics of effective spokespeople. Findings suggest possible avenues for training and support for spokespeople and the need for further research regarding the characteristics of who are effective spokespeople.
Findings suggest possible avenues for training and support for spokespeople and the need for further research regarding the characteristics of who are effective spokespeople.