2015 Corporate Communications Media Reach

Report to: Board of Health

Submitted by: Dr. Nicola Mercer, Medical Officer of Health & CEO

Prepared by: Chuck Ferguson, Manager of Corporate Communications

Approved by: Liz Bowden, Interim Director of HR and Corporate Services

Subject: 2015 Corporate Communications media reach


(a) That the Board of Health receive this report for information.


Communications works collaboratively with divisions and teams to support the work of Public Health. We track metrics related to traditional and new media to ensure effective strategies are developed for staff, the public and the media. These metrics are summarized in quarterly reports and an annual report of all media and online activity is completed each year.

Highlights from 2015 include:

  • An unprecedented level of media stories (252 stories) and potential engagement (14 million impressions), driven largely by communications efforts around the January hepatitis A exposure event in Alma. Communicating through both social and traditional media led to both timely and in-depth coverage, resulting in a rapid increase in public awareness and 1,400 patrons being immunized.
  • Launch of the Agency blog, Stay Well WDG (February) and Facebook page (December).
  • A total of 219,034 website visits – a jump of 19 per cent from 2014.
  • Steady growth of Twitter followers to 2,780 by year-end.
  • Maintenance of Google business listings that garner nearly half a million yearly views.
  • Sourcing 659 journal articles to support staff research needs.


Communications is available to support the work of every division and team in the Agency. Whether it’s assisting with a broad-based campaign such as promoting the importance of immunization or a targeted social media strategy to promote a specific program or service, Communications staff work collaboratively with health promotion specialists, public health nurses and inspectors, and others to develop a plan with tactics and tools to meet each program’s needs.

Communications oversees the brand and reputation of Public Health. We work to ensure that a positive image of the Agency is communicated to appropriate audiences including staff, community stakeholders and the public.

A key role of Communications is that of liaison with local media outlets. Ensuring Public Health is accessible to the media, making sure journalists’ calls get prompt attention, development newsworthy media releases and tracking what topics the media are following help Public Health gets its message out through traditional media venues.

As part of a strong overall web presence, social media is an increasingly important component of the Public Health communications portfolio. Communications shares messaging, monitors and responds to enquiries submitted through these channels. Through the use of social media, including Twitter, Facebook and the blog, Public Health can have a wider impact, achieve higher engagement and reach a broader audience than through traditional media alone.

Communications produces quarterly reports on key activities related to traditional and social media initiatives, website traffic, library, graphic design and other communications services. These reports provide a snapshot of activity and benchmarks for future communications planning. The 2015 report is attached as Appendix “A”.


Communications works with divisions and programs to ensure Public Health provides coordinated and targeted messaging to the right audience at the right time.

The ongoing expansion of traditional media into the digital sphere continues to be a driver of change. Online conversations take place on social networking sites whether Public Health is present or not; strategic involvement on sites like Facebook gives the Agency the opportunity to participate in these conversations and ensure accurate messaging is available to the public. Similarly, publishing a blog means the opportunity to provide information in a timely manner in a format that allows and encourages sharing.

In 2015, the majority of media coverage about Public Health stemmed from outlets that provide news in both print and online formats. This year the amount of coverage stemming from local radio stations jumped to 14 per cent, while broadcast media remained steady compared to 2014 at six per cent of coverage.

The Public Health website remains a cornerstone communications vehicle for Public Health, attracting over 200,000 visits in 2015. The number of individuals following Public Health on Twitter continues to grow by one-to-two per cent per quarter; Public Health was mentioned 600 times on this platform in 2015.

Monitoring the use and appropriateness of various media channels ensures Public Health remains well-positioned to reach stakeholders and the public in a timely and effective manner.


The Ontario Public Health Standards state the Board of Health shall increase public awareness of key priorities by:

Adapting and/or supplementing national and provincial health communications strategies; and/or
Developing and implementing regional/local communications strategies.

The Ontario Public Health Organizational Standards, Section 6.11, state that:

The BOH shall ensure that the administration develops an overall communications strategy that is complementary to the program specific communications strategies required in the OPHS and its Protocols, and addresses both external and internal audiences.

WDGPH Strategic Committment

Community and Partner Relationships

We will work with our communities and key stakeholders and consider their perspectives in our decision-making processes. We will identify important partnerships and collaborate to improve the health of our community.

Functional Infrastructure

We will have the infrastructure to support the delivery of accessible public health services to clients, the community, and external partners within our service area.


Communications and Reception staff make every effort to ensure that information and client service are accessible to everyone.   


Appendix “A” – Yearly Communications Report for 2015.

Communications Report


In 2015, Corporate Communications expanded the reach of Public Health to an unprecedented 14 million media impressions and 200,000 website visits, up 69% and 19%, respectively from 2014. The surge was driven by the communication efforts around the January hepatitis A outbreak in Alma. Public Health received accolades in the Guelph Mercury for the handling of this event (Protecting the public from hepatitis A infection was public health’s finest hour, Feb. 4, 2015).

Other 2015 highlights include:

  • Dr. Mercer being featured in Maclean’s Magazine (Doctors warn against ‘vaccine alternatives’ for children”, Nov. 16, 2015)
  • Managing communications through a Mumps outbreak
  • Creating an agency Client Service Strategy
  • Integrating written content and design into several high-profile campaigns and projects, including Maintain the Chain, the Community Report, and Blood and Body Fluids manual
  • Development and launch of the School Immunization campaign, including campaign video, poster/brochure distribution, newspaper ads and the website ImmunizeWDG.ca

We also supported internal communication and research through library searches, the weekly Stay Well Informed e-newsletter and circulating media coverage.

To support the ongoing trend towards digital communication, Corporate Communications expanded the Agency’s digital presence in 2015, launching the Stay Well WDG blog in February and an Agency Facebook page in November.


In 2015 there were 219,034 visits to the WDGPublicHealth.ca website. Visitors viewed 620,407 pages. The most popular pages (excluding staff login page) included:

  1. The homepage: 130,927 views
  2. Join Our Team” jobs page: 35,088 views
  3. Clinic locations / Clinics: 15,448 and 10,088 views respectively
  4. Contact Us: 10,135 views
  5. Food Handler Certification: 8,770 views
  6. Adults: 7,965 views
  7. Agency Offices: 7,538 views
  8. Parents & Parents-to-be: 7,004 views
  9. Flu clinics: 6,770 views
  10. Teens Sexual Health: 6,084 views

Other pages with over 5,000 views include Prenatal Classes, Check Before You Choose Complaints and Forms. The Check Before You Choose website was visited 13,511 times, with visitors viewing a total of 218,098 pages.

Media coverage

As in previous years, the vast majority of media coverage about Public Health comes from news outlets that publish both print and online (58%). Coverage in print-only publications stayed steady at 2%, while online-only sources (including websites and blogs) continued to decline from 11% in 2014 to 2.5% in 2015. About 14% of coverage came from radio stations that also post audio or written clips online; 3% were on radio only. Overall radio coverage increased 12% year-over-year. Broadcast media accounted for 6% of coverage, which is similar to last year.

Topics garnering the most media attention included:

  • Hepatitis A alert (62 stories)
  • Mumps outbreak (45 stories)
  • Flu (12 stories)
  • Immunization (12 stories)


In 2015, on behalf of the Agency’s divisions and teams, Communications:

  • Wrote/edited and faxed 18 Physician Advisories
  • Sent 16 media releases (88% of which were picked up)
  • Arranged 92 media interviews
  • Curated and distributed 48 staff e-newsletters
  • Wrote/edited 44 blog posts
  • Sent 715 Tweets
  • Posted 44 website news stories
  • Sourced 659 journal articles

In return, the work of Public Health:

  • Was mentioned in 252 media stories with the potential to be viewed over
    14 million times
  • Received 219,034 website visits (+19.2% from 2014) and 9,358 blog visits
  • Was mentioned 603 times on social media
  • Garnered 574 new Twitter followers
  • Had 495,357 business views on Google
  • Is followed by 398 professionals/job-seekers on LinkedIn
WDG Media Breakdown 2015
Media Channels Percentage Breakdown

Print + Online

Website  17%
Radio + Online
Radio Only  3%
Print Only  2%
Online Only  0.40%
Blogs  5%
Broadcast + Online 6%
Media Activity including media releases, stories and mentions


Media Releases Media Stories  Media Mentions Media Impressions
2014 - Q1 4 44 8 1,445,198
2014 - Q2 4 44 17 1,510,600
2014 - Q3  4 27 24 1,850,100
2014 - Q4 5 40 22 3,588,600
2015 - Q1 4 106 16 6,614,110
2015 - Q2 5 57 12 4,052,323
2015 - Q3 2 20 3 1,350,000
2015-Q4 5 38 8 2,186,894