National Health Security Strategy: Strategic Messaging Guide


By Sarah Getachew, Program Analyst

NACCHO is pleased to announce the release of the National Health Security Strategy (NHSS) Strategic Messaging Guide. This tool can be used by local health department (LHD) staff to easily create and communicate messages about national health security to media outlets, policymakers and the public. The messages found in this guide were generated by utilizing the National Health Security Strategy and Implementation Plan, field expertise, and feedback from LHD staff. The messages can be edited and expanded to reflect specific LHD activities and effectively demonstrate the importance of national health security.

NACCHO created this messaging guide to help tie national health security to the day-to-day operations of every LHD across the United States. By incorporating the content of this guide with a messaging strategy (e.g. speeches, printed materials, communication plans) LHD staff can effectively raise awareness about national health security to a variety of audiences.

The messaging guide is comprised of five chapters, each focused on one of the five strategic objectives found in the National Health Security Strategy:

  • Chapter 1: Build and Sustain Healthy, Resilient Communities
  • Chapter 2: Enhance the National Capability to Produce and Effectively Use Both Medical Countermeasures and Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions
  • Chapter 3: Ensure Comprehensive Health Situational Awareness to Support Decision-Making before Incidents and during Response-and-Recovery Operations
  • Chapter 4: Enhance the Integration and Effectiveness of the Public Health, Healthcare and Emergency Management Systems
  • Chapter 5: Strengthen Global Health Security

Each chapter begins with a messaging goal that conveys what can be achieved by talking about the chosen strategic objective. The messaging goal is followed by several lead messages, which are short concrete statements meant to introduce the topic to your audience. Each lead message has several supporting messages that can be used to elaborate upon and strengthen the topic being addressed. Lead and supporting messages can be edited and expanded to deliver accurate, concise and concrete messages to different target audiences.

Each chapter also includes short stories, which exemplify how different LHDs are currently contributing to national health security. Short stories are great mechanisms to connect and deliver important information to a variety of audiences. These are examples and can assist LHD staff in highlighting their agency’s contributions to national health security.

At the end of each chapter there are discussion questions that can help LHD staff make the connection between national health security and their agency’s programmatic activities, as well as help brainstorm specific examples that exemplify each strategic objective.

This short video walks through the steps of developing effective messaging, demonstrates how LHDs can use this guide to design concrete messages, and shows how short stories can be used to highlight and illustrate how everyday LHD activities are connected to national health security. Questions about the messaging guide can be directed to Sarah Getachew, Program Analyst, Preparedness at

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