The Redesigning Wellness Podcast

014: Creating Strategic Wellness Communications with Mark Dessauer, VP of Learning at Spitfire Strategies

Mark D_bio pic

I hope we can all agree you need to make sure wellness programs are adequately communicated so how are strategic communications different?  Strategic communications are one that educate, motivate, market and build trust. They are also designed to achieve well-defined objectives.

Think about the last wellness communication you put together. If it was a laundry list of what your employees had to do, then that’s not exactly a strategic communication.

Mark Dessauer is an expert in strategic communications and VP of Learning at Spitfire Strategies. Although Mark has always been in communications, he worked at Active Living by Design (ALBD) for over 10 years and offers his expertise around the built environment and culture. (Active Living By Design works to create healthier places by addressing policies, systems, and the built environment.)

In this episode, Mark and I discuss:

  • Barriers to effectively communicating with employees
  • How wellness can be infused into the culture
  • Point of decision prompts to help your employees make healthy choices

We have an important conversation around our difference of opinion on cookie cake and Mark answers the questions:

  • How do you figure out on who to focus your communications?
  • What to do with those employees who aren’t engaged in your wellness program?

He defines strategic communications as focused communications, understanding your audience and narrowing your audience.

Ultimately, strategic communications are all about focusing on their values and not our values.

Mark nails this point home with a great story about how General Motors was trying to get the line workers more physically active. He also gives us creative ways to communicate to employees in addition to email.

Finally, Mark gives us his tangible tip to effectively communicate their wellness initiative.


Kent et al. article and related blog post summarizing the findings

Mark’s Contact Info: and

Spitfire’s free strategic communication tool –

ALBD policies (scroll down a bit):