Health Communications 101 with Nutrition Communicator, Brett Otis

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In this episode, Sujani sits down with Brett Otis, the Communications Project Manager in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. They discuss Brett’s work at Harvard Chan on “The Nutrition Source” and the responsibilities of those presenting health information to the public.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Brett’s career path and how he came to work in public health communications 
  • What a day as the Communications Project Manager in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan looks like
  • What “The Nutrition Source” is and what the process of producing this source of information is like 
    • What the department’s motivation in creating this publication was
    • Who this information is for and how the audience has changed over time
  • Tips from Brett on how to consume health information from media
  • Some of the biggest lessons that Brett has learned about communicating public health information
  • What the biggest challenges for individuals working in public health face when trying to communicate public health information
  • The certain health communication challenges that are distinct or more pronounced in the nutrition field compared to other areas of public health 
  • Brett’s observations about public health communication during COVID-19 and what he has seen working well vs. what could be improved
  • Advice from Brett for individuals who might be interested in a similar career
  • Advice from Brett for individuals who might not be working in an explicit health communications role, but who may need to do health communications-type activities as part of their work

Today’s Guest:

Brett O. Otis, ALM, is a Communications Project Manager in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health where he lends strategic support to multiple initiatives, including the department’s primary public-facing website, The Nutrition Source, and annual Healthy Living Guide. He also serves as a key guest lecturer in the MPH course, Nutrition Communication in Practice. Additionally, he is a co-author of Eat Well and Keep Moving (3rd edition, 2016), a school-based nutrition and physical activity program developed for upper-elementary school children. Merging education and training in journalism, health communications, and sustainability, along with professional experience in public health nutrition communications, his work is all about making research accessible and useful to a range of audiences—from policymakers and educators, to the general public.

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About the Show

PH SPOTlight: Public health career stories, inspiration, and guidance from current-day public health heroes

On the show, Sujani sits down with public health heroes of our time to share career stories, inspiration, and guidance for building public health careers. From time to time, she also has conversations with friends of public health – individuals who are not public health professionals, but their advice and guidance are equally important.

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