Public Health Marketing: How to Build Brand Authority as a PHO

Public health marketing is a different ballgame than marketing in any other industry. Whether you are providing medical advice or simply connecting communities to resources they need for wellness, your goal as a public health organization is to help others.

But in order to do so, you need to build trust with your patients and the community. After all, you are impacting people’s wellbeing on a large scale.

Since the topic of public health is so complex and important, it is crucial that all information that your organization puts out is credible and fact-checked first and foremost. Sharing information that is false or misleading could be incredibly dangerous – not to mention illegal.

However, just because your content is accurate and trustworthy doesn’t necessarily mean that people will trust you. This is especially true if you are a smaller organization and not as recognized as names like The Red Cross, The World Health Organization, or the Center for Disease Control.

The thing is that you cannot convince someone to trust you; trust is earned.

So, how can your organization earn trust and establish brand authority in the public health space?

Let’s dive in!

1. Showcase Expertise to the Community

First of all, you need to make your name known within the public health space and position your organization as an expert on the topic. This doesn’t just involve spouting off statistics or complicated medical terminology to show how knowledgeable your staff is.

Instead, your public health marketing plan needs to showcase expertise in a personal way that builds connections and helps people remember you. Generally, it takes five to seven separate impressions with a company before a person starts to recognize and remember the brand.

So, you need to make yourself well-known through your targeted communities by sharing information with the right people.

Social media is an excellent starting point. 52% of people who discovered a new brand found them through a social media network – so this is a fantastic place to promote your expertise.

Create profiles on all of the major platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and keep your accounts active. Follow other organizations within the public health space and share relevant news articles, blog posts, or videos, along with bite-sized informational posts to engage with users.

For example, the organization Patients Like Me uses their presence on social media to share resources and helpful health tips with links back to their website.


Their Twitter alone has nearly 32,000 followers! Clearly, using these networks to share helpful information helped them to gain traction and connect with large communities.

It’s also important that your organization gets involved in offline events and meets with people face-to-face. This is undoubtedly the best way to “humanize” your brand. Let’s be honest here, people can only get to know you so well through a computer screen!

Attending or sponsoring local events should play a key role in your public health marketing strategy. It is even better if your leaders and directors are featured as speakers at these types of conferences. This will do wonders to establish them as thought leaders within the health sphere.

Although your organization is not necessarily a traditional type of business – in the sense that it is selling a product – branding and advertising at these types of events is still very important. Handing out physical thought leadership content like pamphlets or books is a great way to do this.

2. Understand the Basics of E-A-T

No, E-A-T has nothing to do with food or nutrition.

In this case, it is all about gaining visibility on Google searches.

A basic understanding of E-A-T and SEO (search engine optimization) is crucial for public health organizations. This is to understand how their website links can earn more visibility on Google.

Fun fact: 93% of online experiences start with a search engine!

To break it down, search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing want to provide users with the most relevant and helpful results. To do this, they use bots to crawl through website pages to learn what information the webpage is providing. And more importantly, how credible the information is!

Search engine algorithms then use this information to serve results by matching up keywords and suggesting links that pertain to the intent of the query.

Now, health organizations have it a bit tougher than other industries in terms of SEO. Google takes extra precautions to ensure they don’t serve users unreliable health content – as this could result in serious problems.

In order for your content to qualify for searches related to your cause, you need to focus on improving your site’s E-A-T score. This stands for:

  • Expertise
  • Authority
  • Trustworthiness

Let’s go over expertise. How can you establish this on your website?

A lot of this will likely come down to the name attached to your content. For example, if you wrote a blog post on HIV prevention, how are you qualified to provide your advice? What are your credentials? These need to be displayed clearly on your site so Google knows you’re the real deal!

  • What’s your degree?
  • Where did you earn it?
  • What research have you published?
  • What have you accomplished in the industry?

In terms of the content itself, expertise is about citing credible sources, conforming to widely accepted facts, and making sure your claims are accurate.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is one of the best examples of this within the public health space. They have an extensive blog covering nearly all health subjects with information and resources that is extremely helpful for their readers. While your organization’s blog certainly does not need to be this widespread, you should aim to provide expert information on numerous topics within your focused cause.


Secondly, you should be focused on establishing authority on your subject. Now, establishing expertise is all about showcasing that you know your stuff. Authority, on the other hand, is about getting validation that you know your stuff!

This involves earning good, relevant backlinks from credible websites, getting mentions from experts in the field, and being featured on industry publications.

Trustworthiness mostly comes down to your website itself. Is it secure? Updated? Reliable?

The main question to ask yourself with trustworthiness is: would a patient be comfortable with handing over their personal information on your website?

E-A-T is a vital aspect of public health marketing. We’ll dive a bit deeper into the details in the next couple sections.

3. Back Up Claims with Trusted Sources

As mentioned before, all claims or facts you state on your organization’s website (or printed information) need to come from credible sources. It will be impossible to establish expertise and authority if you are simply making claims with no scientific proof to back them up – especially in public health marketing.

It is extremely important that you are providing the public with reliable information. Failing to do so could not only ruin your organization’s reputation, but it could get you into legal trouble.

Make sure that you are fully transparent about which resources you are using to provide information – and follow the proper citation procedures. When it comes to online information, it is recommended you state where it was originally published and include a hyper-link to the online resource.

For instance, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation provides information and resources to people about HIV prevention and treatments.

Their blog contains statements and facts that are pulled from reputable resources, and they are properly hyperlinked within the content.


Medical research reports or statements from highly regarded sources like the CDC, WHO, and the Mayo Clinic, are great to incorporate, too.

4. Build Up Your Backlink Profile

You tend to trust a business or brand more if you see they are being endorsed by someone you trust – whether that is a friend, co-worker, or another trusted organization.

If a new company has a piece written about them in the New York Times or on Huffington Post, you will probably sense that they are a legitimate business and be more willing to trust them.

The same goes for your public health organization. Your reputation really matters, and it will help you to establish brand authority. But you should not leave this to chance and just hope that a credited magazine or blog writes about you.

You need to be building up consistent inbound links on relevant, credible sites to improve your own authority. This can be done by providing services or collaborating on various projects. Your content team can pitch article ideas on public health publications in exchange for a link back to your website.

For instance, the Skin Cancer Foundation wrote an article for the news resource Cancer Connect about skin cancer prevention tips. This provided Cancer Connect with relevant content that their audience would be interested in reading, while creating an inbound link to the Skin Cancer Foundation.


Link building is an extremely important aspect of public health marketing to earn higher rankings on search results pages. Google takes the number of inbound links into account when determining a site’s credibility and ranking position.

According to the latest research from Moz, this accounts for nearly 28% of overall ranking factors.

5. Interview Authoritative Experts

Finally, get up-close and personal with experts within the medical and health fields to give your organization even more credibility.

Conduct interviews with doctors, medical professionals, and scientists to discuss topics related to your mission. This is a great way to give your brand credibility – while also giving the public important information from knowledgeable professionals.

There are numerous public health marketing strategies to share information from authoritative experts. You can insert quotes in your website or blog content, film videos, or even launch a podcast if you plan to conduct these types of interviews regularly.

For instance, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health runs an active podcast called Public Health on Call. They bring on medical experts and doctors to discuss topics on public health.


This is super beneficial in a space where a lot of misinformation is being spread around.

The public can trust they are receiving truthful and trustworthy information from this resource – since it is coming directly from people who speak with authority and experience.


There are countless health organizations and resource centers available to the public in just a few clicks! If you really want to help people by providing them with information and assistance in relation to public health, your organization needs to establish authority and build trust.

The best way to do this is to create a public health marketing plan that connects you with your intended audience and provides solid reasons for them to trust what you have to say.

For any questions about your public health marketing and how to get the ball rolling, don’t hesitate to reach out! The Ayokay team is always happy to help!