Communication Campaigns

Planning and Implementation Materials

Four HEALing Communities Study (HCS) campaigns were developed, tailored, and implemented in each of 66 communities across four states (Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York, and Ohio). Specific objectives were developed for each of the four campaigns that aligned with priority groups and included:


Make your organization a judgment-free zone that supports people with opioid use disorder throughout their recovery.


Remove treatment barriers and improve access to care so people can get the help they need.


Save lives by stocking naloxone at your organization and training staff to use it in the event of an opioid overdose.

Stigma objectives of the campaigns:

Normalizing possession and use of naloxone
Reducing shame and enhancing family and friends’ support for treatment with medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD)
Increasing acceptance that MOUD can be an essential part of someone’s recovery from OUD
Emphasizing that MOUD improves quality of life

The materials below were developed to help coalitions prepare, plan, and implement each of the four campaigns. Coalitions were provided with “core” campaign assets that could be tailored with local “faces and places.” These assets included digital products that could be used as paid advertisements or social media placements, and two formats of print materials that could be used in paid advertising, direct distribution in the form of flyers or palm cards in specific venues, or placement in locations around the community. Each community could adapt these materials to other formats as they chose.

Campaign Playbooks

A set of eight topical campaign "playbooks" provide practical campaign implementation tips from media and campaign distribution planning to sustainability planning and practices.

How to Build Relationships with Your Local Media

How to hold brief, structured meetings with media representatives to build an effective and respectful relationship with them.

How to Create Your Communication Campaign’s Distribution Plan

Develop distribution or promotion plans to get campaign messages more effectively in front of the people you care about most.

How to Pitch, Place, and Leverage Op-Eds, Letters to the Editor, and Alternative Digital Content

Plan, draft, and submit print and digital content to the media that draws their attention to your work.

How to Plan and Organize Your Communications Around Key Topics and Events

Using a Campaign Calendar to Organize Your Community's Activities

How to Assess Campaign Progress in Communities and Identify Potential Enhancements

Ideas and tools to regularly assess campaign implementation and activities among your coalition and partners.

How to Create Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Video and Audio Materials

Best practices for creating materials to share through social media, websites, community presentations, and radio or TV public service announcements.

Building Sustainable Opioid Overdose Communications Beyond HCS

The HCS identified seven critical steps to help communities sustain communication efforts once funding for an intervention ends.

Communications 101

Navigating the Fundamentals Post-HCS. How to transition ownership of campaign messaging and resources to local platforms, and secure funding for continued communication work.


Message Guidance

The following Message Guidance documents helped HCS community coalitions develop their own campaign materials, including video testimonials of people in recovery, newspaper editorials, radio scripts, social media posts, and talking points for television coverage featuring local news or human interest stories. Each guidance document ensured that materials and activities presented a consistent, evidence-based message. The guidance is based on formative research with campaign audiences and best practices in health communication.



Stay in MOUD Treatment


Media Backgrounders

During the HCS campaigns, we used these backgrounders to ensure coalitions members and spokespersons delivered consistent and evidence-based messages about study activities when speaking with the media.

Fentanyl & Stimulants
How Addiction Changes the Brain

HCS Clear Communications Tip Sheets

The Clear Communications Tips sheets provide information on plain language and clear communication standards, readability calculators, how to select suitable imagery, and how to avoid triggering or stigmatizing language.



Organizational Toolkit

The Organizational toolkit describes the various ways that businesses, faith-based organizations, schools and universities, nonprofits, and other community-based organizations can provide valuable support to prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts in their communities.

Toolkit For Preventing Opioid Overdoses At Your Organization

A Practical Guide for Employers, Community Leaders, and Faith Leaders



Frkovich J, Hedrick H, Anakaraonye AR, Bornkessel A, Lefebvre RC. Opioid-related public health communication campaigns: An environmental scan. American Journal of Health Promotion. 2022 Jul;36(6):913-919. doi: 10.1177/08901171221082471. Epub 2022 Apr 1. PMID: 35365055

Lefebvre RC, Chandler RK, Helme DW, Kerner R, Mann S, Stein MD, Reynolds J, Slater MD, Anakaraonye AR, Beard D, Burrus O, Frkovich J, Hedrick H, Lewis N, Rodgers E. Health communication campaigns to drive demand for evidence-based practices and reduce stigma in the HEALing communities study. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2020 Dec 1;217:108338. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2020.108338. Epub 2020 Oct 5. PMID: 33152673; PMCID: PMC7534788.

Stein, M.D., Krause, C., Rodgers, E., Silwal, A., Helme, D., Slater, M., Beard, D., Lewis, N., Luster, J., Stephens, K., & Lefebvre, C. (2023). Lessons learned from developing tailored community communication campaigns in the HEALing Communities Study, Journal of Health Communication, 28:10, 699-705, doi: 10.1080/10810730.2023.2262948