How to Reach Rural Residents [Interview Update]

Content From: HIV.govPublished: March 12, 20192 min read


Photographic of a man using a lap top with icons of connectivity coming from his computer.

For many organizations that do HIV work, reaching rural residents is a priority—but doing that effectively can present a unique set of challenges.

Last year, we spoke with Kristine Sande, Program Director at the Rural Health Information HubExit Disclaimer, to get her insights on using digital tools and social media to share important information with rural audiences. We reached out to Kristine again to learn more about her advice for 2019. In the past year, what have you learned about social media and digital tools in rural areas?

Kristine: In the last year, I’ve really come to appreciate the value of moving collaborative partnerships online. Partnering with other organizations in a deliberate way on social media can extend the reach of each organization. Collaborating on social media events, such as Twitter Chats, can create more of a buzz than a single organization would be able to achieve on its own. Sharing, responding, and liking each other’s posts can also amplify organizations’ messages. How can communicators use social media and digital tools to reach rural populations in 2019?

Kristine: I would encourage communicators to routinely research their target audience and learn what channels they are on, what information they want and need, and how they like to engage. It’s important to watch for and react to changes in your audience. Remember that there’s quite a bit of variation amongst rural residents in terms of their broadband service, internet skills, and social media use, so it’s key to use a variety of communications channels to reach different segments of your audience. To encourage engagement with rural residents, strive to make your posts sound friendly and approachable by writing in plain language. Thanks, Kristine!

To learn more about Kristine’s advice for reaching rural audiences, check out last year’s blog post. She covered:

  • The future of rural audience communications
  • Unique challenges to reaching a rural audience
  • The importance of understanding rural audience demographics
  • The role of social media and digital tools in reaching this audience

About the Rural Health Information Hub

The Rural Health Information Hub is funded by a cooperative agreement with HRSA'S Federal Office of Rural Health Policy to be a national clearinghouse on rural health issues. Hub resources include over 50 topic guides, along with guides that provide state-by-state breakdowns of rural health resources, some rural data visualizations, case studies, conversations and other tools. The Chronic Disease in Rural America Toolkit includes HIV. There is also a Rural HIV/AIDS Prevention and Treatment Toolkit, which describes strategies and model programs across the HIV care continuum to assist rural communities with HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.