Two women sitting across from each other and talking

Tips from the Field: Outreach Tactics

Posted on 09/11/2018

In a recent community survey (July 2018), we asked communities who are spreading messages about the importance of end-of-life conversations which unique or hard-to-reach audiences they are reaching and how. Below is a sampling of how various audiences are being reached as well as general outreach tactics and top tips from these communities.

College students:

  • Partner with local university, school of nursing or other medical professional schools to hold programs on the campus.
  • Choose topics of interest to college students for programs (e.g. LGBTQ-inclusive hospice and palliative care & supporting bereaved college students).
  • Screen videos such as “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande or “End Game” with a panel and audience participation.
  • Create programming for on campus TV station- tape the talks and replay
  • Use AmeriCorps interns to reach college students
  • Provide incentives for students to attend (e.g. have lecturers give students extra credit to attend).

*Check out TCP’s new College Student Guide, which offers a set of resources to support student leaders or others who want to host a TCP event on their campus.

Patients and their family/caregivers:

  • Develop chart reminders and work with RN Health Coaches in the clinics
  • Tap into hospital radio or other programming offered to patients (e.g. introduce on prayer lines)
  • Have the Conversation Starter Kits available and/or messaging through the patient portal

Hospital staff and health care providers:

  • Provide Wellness points to staff and their spouses on hospital employee health plan who engage in advance care planning (ACP) conversation, complete advance directives (AD) and place AD on file at hospital. Points can be requested each year in effort to encourage ongoing conversations and consideration to topic.
  • Conduct CME workshops for healthcare professionals (and advertising via electronic signage at hospital sites)
  • Network with medical administrators at local hospitals emphasizing how having the conversation can be worked into the curriculum

*Check out Having the Conversation: Basic Skills for Conversations about End-of-Life Care (Virtual Course):  a course to help develop skills to have conversations with patients and their families about their preferences for care at the end of life.

Non-English speaking populations:

  • Forge partnerships with local leaders to co-design ways to reach community
  • Share information on non-English (e.g. Spanish) Radio stations
  • Work with medical translators
  • Train volunteers who already speak the language


  • Reach out via existing veteran organization channels (e.g. newsletters)
  • Use telehealth (reaching rural Veterans) or going to community events Veterans go to (going to them, rather than trying to bring them to us)

Youth/transitioning young adults with special health needs, intellectual/developmental disabilities:

  • Work with care coordination agency, local or national parent groups and local parents to help co-design programming that fits their needs


  • Contact homeless shelters and work with local homeless program liaisons

Additional outreach tactics and top tips:

  • Host events: panel discussions, workshops, book store/bank/library/public housing/senior housing events, “parties” or fun social events to keep it light (e.g. a Law group hosting a “will party”)
  • Spread the word and raise awareness through traditional and social media outlets: newspaper articles, digital ads, bus wraps, press releases, Facebook, Twitter, radio spots or radio talk shows (e.g. Local NPR station radio advertisements), standalone website as a community service with links to resources
  • Tap into existing community outreach efforts to share info/advertise events: community or local newspaper events calendars, Senior Citizen Center or Congregation newsletters, local organizations’ web pages, announcements of events on local popular AM Talk radio station, reaching out through existing local partners/coalitions, sharing upcoming event slide at local Indy cinema, posting on Nextdoor.com (National neighborhood service), advertising in monthly local Entertainment Guide
  • Create new community coalitions to extend reach and work together: tapping into existing stakeholders, board members, memberships, etc. of each group
  • Top tip – Consider timing and type of event: think about matching your event to when and what type of audience will be available (e.g. weekends/night shifts at hospital)
  • Top Tip – Messaging and the messenger matters: Tap into group interests and match program content to what the audience will be receptive to (e.g. a focus on health care costs, first responder stress, stress on families and individuals, public policy, etc.) – e.g. one community group focused on collaborating with their local public policy theatre to create a show on Advance Care Planning that would resonate with their policy interests

Looking for additional tips? Check out our Community Getting Started Guide and stay tuned for more tips from the field on our community resources pageWhat are your top tips or tactics for reaching your community members?  Please share below!

2 Responses

  1. Micki Jackson says:

    In our community, I raised $7,500 to be divided into five $1,500 scholarships for students who attend five colleges and a university in our region.

    The scholarships were given aware as door prizes to students who attended a community event leading up to NHDD 2018. I titled the event, “What’s up, Doc? We’re Dying to Talk.”

    I arranged speakers — 7 minutes each — from each decade from their 20s – 90s. An “inter-generation conversation” on the importance to “have the conversation.”

    The room was about 60-75% students…with not only age diversity, but ethnic/race diversity.

    Of course, the enticement of the scholarships generated the young audience, but it was amazing how engaged and attentive they were! The very next day, Northwest Indian College published an article about the event in their campus publication, reporting “the event has opened up a dialogue on campus.”

  2. Jeff Carbine says:

    I loved when you mentioned Partnering with a local university, school of nursing, or other medical professional schools to hold programs on the campus. My mother will be opening a charity foundation after her retirement. Good to know there is a government outreach program to where we can collaborate with. I will share this post with my mother.

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