To help get the word out about National HIV Testing Day collaborated on an innovative new media project. More than 20 students from six universities and five AIDS organizations hit the streets with video cameras this April to produce eight short video messages encouraging young people to be tested for HIV.
To learn more about this project, we spoke with Dr. Scott Shamp, a professor at the University of Georgia and the director of the New Media Institute, and with our CDC colleague Jackie Rosenthal.
What are Personal PSAs?
Public service announcements have become a mainstay in public health efforts. What differentiates personal PSAs from traditional ones, is that in addition to being user-generated, they are shared via cell phones and social network sites, like YouTube, MySpace, and Facebook.
Why Personal PSAs?
Rosenthal stated, “We know that there are millions of young people who consume media differently today. They are more in tune with colleagues and the world via personal communication devices such as cell phones. We started to research the role of cell phones and other mobile media devices, and how these assets can play a part in enhancing people’s lives.”
Dr. Shamp continued, “There is a new generation of creative individuals who can create a lot of cool things that resonate with various target audiences with very little technology.” And a cell phone allows people to send these messages friend-to-friend, colleague-to-colleague.
Creating the PPSAs
Each PPSA took a different approach to communicate the same message - HIV testing is quick, simple, painless, and VERY important.
We asked Dr. Shamp to tell us about how the PPSAs were developed. He told us that, after spending one day learning about HIV/AIDS, testing and surveillance, the students were then put into small groups and tasked with coming up with ideas for their short videos. On the second day, an expert panel approved their concepts and the groups hit the pavement with inexpensive video cameras to turn their concepts into actual video footage. On the evening of the second day, they showed the final products to all the students and project partners. “It was really exciting,” said Dr. Shamp.
The PPSA team credits two major components for bringing this project together and executing it successfully: creativity and cooperation. This endeavor required a group of partners like CDC and Verizon Wireless. Dr. Shamp stated, “It also relied heavily on crazily brave individuals to take on the production, and students and faculty, whom we call intrepid innovators, to help us carry this out from inception to completion.”
In anticipation of National HIV Testing Day, the PPSAs will be available on CDC’s YouTube channel. We also encourage you to embed the video(s) on your Web site or blog in support and observance of National HIV Testing Day.