Public Health England wants to make its brand ‘part of the fabric of society’

The government health body is changing its strategy as it looks to take its “tools out of the marketing world and into everyday interactions with the health system”.

Public Health England
Public Health England’s recent campaign looked to raise awareness of heart disease by inviting consumers to do a quick online test.

Public Health England wants its brand to become part of people’s day-to-day lives, and it is looking to smarter use of data and partnerships to achieve this.

The body has released its new social marketing strategy today (22 September), which sets out plans for improving public health over the next three years.

Its marketing strategy is focused around four key areas:

– Broaching new subjects, such as antibiotics usage, e-cigarettes and young people’s sexual health.
– Keeping pace with digital innovation and investing in new digital tools; previous examples include apps to push families to cut back on sugar or encourage people to stop smoking.
– Ensuring all its marketing tools and assets are academically endorsed and robust.
– Working more closely with the commercial and voluntary sector to shine a light on important health issues and create “coalitions for change”.

The report makes clear that through its marketing, Public Health England (PHE) wants to become “part of the fabric of people’s lives”. One way it is looking to achieve this is by having its information pushed out through more channels and partners.

“For example, we create digital content that reaches young people, but that is now also being turned into lesson plans so it becomes part of the fabric of school education assets. It’s taking the marketing tools out of the marketing world and into everyday channels and interactions with the health system,” PHE’s marketing director Sheila Mitchell tells Marketing Week.

Using digital as intervention

Digital engagement is also high on its list of priorities. PHE says it is “trying to keep pace” with the rate of change, but also wants to use digital tools to target consumers and send them more relevant messages.

Its bigger focus on digital has also led to new challenges around managing data. For example, when consumers sign up for an app or programme they are required to provide their contact details. Mitchell claims while PHE isn’t into “deep personalised CRM activity”, it does use this data to help develop its digital marketing by retargeting people more effectively.

“[It means] we are taking a test and learn approach and are trying to be much nimbler. We can reach people at scale, but in a more customised way and use data to deliver relevant content. That’s what we’re learning to do better,” a PHE spokesman adds.

The body’s changing approach to digital marketing is also affecting its approach to creative content. PHE claims it always knew how to “make the perfect 30-second ad on a public health issue”, but that it had to throw that formula out when thinking mobile-first.

Mitchell concludes: “We’re not struggling, but it’s trial and error in terms of creating meaningful engagements around public health issues that are about changing behaviour.”