Blogging In Public Health


"Slower," said the guard. "The camera has to photograph the underside of your car." I eased off the gas. "Now open all of your doors and pop your trunk; then step out of your car and open your hood." Of course I couldn't find the hood latch. However, the guards at the Center For Disease Control and Prevention must be use to that because they patiently pointed out where it might be.

Cdc_logo I was honored to be invited to participate in the internal seminar series Health Marketing eCDC sponsored by the CDC's E-Health Marketing Divison.  If that wasn't  enough I had the privilege of working with  R. Craig Lefebvre, PhD, On Social Marketing and Social Change, Susan Promislo, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Marianne Richmond, Resonance Partnership.

Craig kept us on task moderating the conversation. Our session focused on How To Promote Public Health Through Blogs. He set the stage (the state of the art auditorium was a speaker's dream) with his opening remark that explained blogs "Reaching through people is the best way to reach people."  The session was intended to be a high level overview and was transmitted to multiple campuses through out the organization.

As you might imagine leveraging social media, in the scientific world of medicine, comes with its own set of challenges. However, as all of the speakers pointed out, the internet is now a series of interconnected social networks, where even healthcare information can no longer be controlled.

Susan added a case study element, sharing her experiences from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's multiple author blog  Pioneering Ideas. The blog has been running for about 6-months, and although there have been commentors who respectfully disagreed with a post, none of the Foundation's concerns regarding inflammatory comments have occured. The Foundation did a great job in developing Guidelines or Terms of Use.

The CDC is no stranger when it comes to social media. In fact, they are far more innovative and willing to step out of their comfort zone than many for profits. Social media tactics include:A blog authored by Jay M. Bernhardt, Director of the National Center for Health Marketing. An innovative blogger relations program that educated and promoted the importance of flu shots. Cdc_second_lifePerhaps the most surprising is an island in Second Life. Great interview, by Nedra Weinreich, with John Anderton who is responsible for the virtual experience. And not the least are great internal education programs.

So what are some of the benefits of developing a social media strategy to promote public healthcare? Glad you asked! Following is from my presentation. You'll notice that benefits are similar to that of Any organization .. non profit, for profit, business-to-business and business-to-consumer.

10 Benefits of A Social Media / Blogging Initiative

  1. Tell stories from the heart
  2. Humanizes a complex agency
  3. Tell your story in your voice/s – no media filter
  4. Create relationship with millions of people
  5. More people hear your story – search engines, viral marketing
  6. Many voices help tell your story – bloggers linking
  7. Tell your story when you want – instant, easy publishing [audio (podcast), video (vlog)]
  8. Feedback and conversation – increased value and additional information
  9. Online information travels offline
  10. Mainstream media is turning to blogs for story ideas

It was a wonderful experience and the Royal Campus is humbling, as are the people who work at the CDC. But the icing on the cake was this email -

Hope you're aware that you and the panel were speaking to and potentially influencing many more than just those in the auditorium. Many thanks from a silent attendee (with internet connection and a set of headphones) in a cubicle 7 miles away!

Many thanks to Erin Ederton and Janice Nail for the opportunity. And to Alejandra Miranda for coordinating the deails. Let's do it again soon!


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What a wonderful opportunity to be on the inside of such an important conversation! Information has always been the currency of government agencies. It's great to hear that they understand the power of a social media strategy.

Posted by: Valeria Maltoni on Apr 17, 2007 10:06:56 PM

Valeria - It was a indeed a treat to be part of the CDC's program. I was impressed by the willingness of the E-Marketing group to explore using social media when so many corporations are hold the reins tight.

Posted by: Toby on Apr 17, 2007 11:09:31 PM

Thanks for coming and speaking with us. Especially glad you like the Second Life stuff.

Posted by: John Anderton on Apr 18, 2007 1:32:43 PM

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Posted by: sarah on Nov 26, 2008 10:05:05 PM

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