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 use of social networking, and research by Karen Mercincavage and Dr. Warren Bareiss from King's College 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 HIV.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 Problems along with the Lance Armstrong Foundation and Ogilvy Public Relations. 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 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 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 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, MTV, and CDC, 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 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, Bradford Hess from NCI, 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, Nedra Weinrich, Andre Blackman, and Alex Bornkessel (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 - there are a lot of gems to be found (CDC colleague Justin Williams created a wordle 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.