Last week I attended the 6th Annual CDC National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media in Atlanta, which provides a forum for the discussion and exploration of health communication, marketing and media. Topics and panels covered a range of issues important to many of us in the health communications field.
On the Sexual Health in the Digital Age panel, I was joined by leaders in new media including Sally Cherry from the CHARE project , who participated in a training with AIDS.gov in 2009 and became hooked on new media. She presented on using virtual worlds such as Second Life to attend virtual conferences and host HIV awareness day events. Tim Kordic of the Los Angeles Unified School District presented on Project U which uses print, mobile, and web to bring young people information and services on sexual health. This project uses peer leaders to develop the content, and students for the creative. On the panel I shared AIDS.gov’s lessons learned from the past year, including guidance from the Digital Goverment Strategy (PDF 660KB), new data from the Pew Internet & American Life Project , and results from the National Minority AIDS Council HIV and New Media survey. I also spoke about some of AIDS.gov’s accomplishments from this year such as launching the AIDS.gov website in responsive design and the Facing AIDS Mobile App, both of which help our audiences get the information they need and engage with the AIDS.gov project.
At AIDS.gov we encourage our audience to repurpose information, but recognize that it may often feel burdensome to maintain so many communications channels. Fred Smith from CDC presented on content syndication as a solution to those woes. Mr. Smith mentioned the Digital Government Strategy’s focus on making government content available “anytime, anywhere, and on any device.” CDC does this through an Application Programming Interface (API) that allows them to simultaneously update and display content on the CDC.gov web site, the mobile site (m.cdc.gov), RSS feeds, eCards, and iPad, iPhone, and Android mobile applications. The CDC API goes beyond their own channels, as many organizations (e.g. state and local governments) can include CDC web content on their own sites through the API. In another session, Healthfinder.gov shared that they also have an API. In fact, AIDS.gov also has an API for our HIV Prevention and Service Provider Locator.
Hard to Reach Populations
In the session “Reaching Communities of Color” Dr. Ivor Horn presented on her collaboration with the website My Brown Baby . Dr. Horn is a pediatrician at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC, where she found that more of her patients were heeding her medical advice after they saw her speak on local media outlets. Dr. Horn took the opportunity to become a trusted doctor for families in African-American communities. She teamed up with Denene Millner’s website MyBrownBaby.com to create Dr. Ivor Is In, a monthly column where she shared her expertise and personal experience. A content analysis of the website after the series of six blog posts showed an increase “in the number of mentions of words like child, baby and parents and more health- and medical-related content” – an example of reaching your audience where they are.
Dr. Lisa Solomon of Abt Associates showed how working with Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) can help reach minority students on college campuses. Seven MSIs were funded through the Minority AIDS Initiative Fund administered through the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy in the US Department of Health and Human Services. Each institution identified social marketing strategies to increase retention and participation of students in evidence-based HIV interventions, testing campaigns, and educational sessions.
On the last day of the conference, the organizers offered an Inspiration Shop. Five presenters gave ignite style presentations about what inspired them. Punam Keller opened the session and reinforced the role of thought leaders as those who give away their ideas to others for the greater good of improving health. CDC HealthComms Works is a platform that inspires her. Andre Blackman of Pulse and Signal shared that programs intersecting innovation and public health inspire him. He mentioned Data, Design, Diabetes which was an innovation challenge that used crowdsourcing to address diabetes care in the U.S. Beyond the examples of inspirational health communications projects, the presenters and participants also shared their personal inspirations and energized the conference participants on the last day.
Participating from a Distance
Trying to gather information for this blog and live tweeting made it a challenge for me to capture everything in the inspiration session. In fact there was so much activity that the hashtag #hcmmconf was trending that morning. After the session I created a Storify to document what was shared and to use as a future reference. I was able to pull from sources including Twitter and Youtube to document the experience. CDC also piloted the NCHCMM as a virtual conference , and all the sessions from the main room were streamed live. Between the activity on Twitter and live streaming, it allowed those afar an opportunity to participate in the conference.
After a few weeks, the hashtag #hcmmconf is still very active, so please join the conversation. Also, don’t miss communication resources from the CDC (including a Health Communicator’s Social Media Toolkit (PDF 2.42MB) and Guide to Writing for Social Media (PDF 1.57MB). Did you participate in the conference? Please share with us your takeaways.