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2010 CDC Health Communication, Marketing, and Media Conference Highlights

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Convergence 2010: National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media

Last week in Atlanta I joined nearly 1,000 health communicators at CDC’s 4th Annual National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media. The theme of this year’s conference was “Convergence: Purpose, Programs, & Partners.” From the opening session, to the numerous panels, to the tweet up, to the closing session, the conference emphasized a “forward movement of partnerships and programs toward a common purpose.” The conference was divided into four complimentary tracks:

Track I: To Advance Science

Learning about NIAID’s HIV Vaccine Research Education Initiative, the National Minority AIDS Council’s Exit Disclaimer use of social networking, and research by Karen Mercincavage Exit Disclaimer and Dr. Warren Bareiss Exit Disclaimer from King’s College Exit Disclaimer about our very own Facing AIDS photos, we heard how health communication and marketing is informed by new concepts and information. This convergence of science and practice, particularly around the use of social media, provides us with new and exciting ways to reach our diverse and new audiences.

Track II: To Bridge Divides

Reaching underserved populations is a priority for AIDS.gov. There were several sessions that provided insight and innovation about communicating with communities and individuals disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS. I presented our “Facing AIDS for World AIDS Day Campaign” on the panel, “Using Social Networking and New Media to Solve Old ProblemsExit Disclaimer along with the Lance Armstrong Foundation Exit Disclaimer and Ogilvy Public Relations Exit Disclaimer. At the session, “Connecting to Communities though Partnership with Ethnic Media”, we heard about the importance of engaging communities and providing tailored information. Vic Strecher Exit Disclaimer also emphasized tailored information and how the “times, they are a changin’” (yes, he played Dylan). Camara Phyllis Jones, Kathleen Roe, and Pauline Brooks also provided some tremendous insight into health equity and how health communications and new media can contribute to this conversation and to convergence between academia and communities. And we heard from Rachel Clad at the University of Washington Exit Disclaimer about her work to develop and test messages that are culturally relevant for the African American community in King County, Washington.

Track III: To Explore Innovations

Our colleagues at the CDC explored new tools and innovation on their panel, “An Overview of the I Know Campaign: Using Social Media to Prompt Dialogue about HIV/AIDSExit Disclaimer and the panel, “Expanding our Reach: Leveraging Social Media and Partnerships for a Public Health Emergency” where they focused on innovative approaches to H1N1 flu. And we were pleased to also present with our CDC and FDA colleagues, Ann Aiken, Jessica Schindelar, and April Bruback about Twitter evaluation, monitoring, and engagement.

Track IV: To Improve Practice

While we are all working to improve practice, the fourth track focused on convergence of translating evidence-based knowledge and information into practice. The Kaiser Family Foundation Exit Disclaimer, MTV Exit Disclaimer, and CDC presented, “Successes and Lessons Learned from the National GYT: Get Yourself Tested CampaignExit Disclaimer, where we heard about the development, clinic and community outreach, and partnership processes. And on the “Engaging Youth Audience, Improving Practice” panel, CDC’s Holly Seitz presented on how they have used Whyville Exit Disclaimer to improve messaging to youth about the flu, along with two other panelists that discussed youth-focused programs to promote STD testing and a mobile peer-to-peer dialogue to prevent teen pregnancy.

From the opening session with Vic Strecher to the closing panel moderated by CDC’s Jay Bernhardt and featuring James Andrews, “e-Patient Dave” deBronkart Exit Disclaimer, Bradford Hess from NCI, and Dana Lewis from the Swedish Medical Center Exit Disclaimer, the conference was an opportunity for us to learn from our colleagues, and connect with many new and old colleagues and friends all working together in the name of public health, like Andrew Wilson Exit Disclaimer, Nedra Weinrich Exit Disclaimer, Andre Blackman Exit Disclaimer, and Alex Bornkessel Exit Disclaimer (just to name a few). As with most conferences, the time between sessions was as valuable as the time spent in sessions. I learned what my colleagues were doing, new ways to evaluate our efforts, and the power of partnerships and collaborations. And I was reminded how much I love to use Twitter for conferences. Take a look at the #hcmm10 tweets Exit Disclaimer – there are a lot of gems to be found (CDC colleague Justin Williams Exit Disclaimer created a wordle Exit Disclaimer of all the tweets, too).

With the passing of the Affordable Care Act and the release of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, the theme of convergence, of working together, communicating with our colleagues, partners, and communities is particularly relevant.

What is one thing you learned that will change how you do your work? We’d love to continue the dialogue.

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