What lessons can health promotion take from USA Today?

It’s ubiquitous.

You might not buy a copy of USA Today at the newsstand, subscribe for home delivery, or seek out its content on the web, but you’ve probably thumbed through countless issues of the paper in your life.

Why? Well, USA Today is all over the place. It’s dropped at the door of your hotel room in the morning. It’s free at the airport. Whenever you’re in motion, it satisfies your need to sit down and read the news — from wherever you are.

The tip: Are your wellness communications everywhere? In the stairwells? The break room? Even bathroom stalls can be a great place to deliver your message to an, er, captive audience.

It’s intuitive and simple.

Stories on the front page of USA Today take up only the front page — no skipping to page A4 mid-sentence. On the front page of each section you’ll find one-line blurbs that tell you what’s inside.  Articles tend to be short and easy-to-read, sometimes with bullet-point summaries of key take-aways.

USA Today gets lampooned a lot for being the McDonald’s of print newspapers, but we think there’s a big difference between simple and simplistic. Sure, readers won’t want to turn to USA Today for in-depth analysis of the latest Congressional policy fight. But for those looking for a quick overview of the news of the day, stocks, and maybe a recap of the game they missed last night, USA Today delivers.

The tip: Know your audience and deliver the information they need in a format they can read and digest over continental breakfast at the hotel. What’s the most concise, engaging way to deliver the information your employees need?

It’s attractive.

USA Today is color-coded for ease of navigation — blue for News, red for Sports, green for Money. You know that, even if you’re not conscious of it. And years before “infographic” became a buzz word, USA Today placed an eye-catching daily chart on its front page for a snapshot of pertinent data.

The tip: Is your communication well-designed? It’s easy to overlook this step, especially in small firms where budgets are crunched. But by paying attention to clean, clear, and colorful presentation of information, your can send a message in barely more than the blink of an eye.

There’s something for everyone.

One of my favorite lunchtime hobbies in college was sitting with friends from all over the country and reading the nation’s news blurbs to each other, sharing the latest from each others’ home states and quirky headlines from across the country. And with a national weather report, you can be prepared for whatever the winds bring, wherever you are.

It’s no small feat that USA Today can be broadly appealing while remaining relevant and personal. The reading level is appropriate, the amount of information is just right, and there’s something useful for pretty much everyone in the country.

How can you make your wellness efforts just as efficient, timely, and useful?

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