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CDC 2011 National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media, August 9-11, Atlanta, Georgia

Title: Real Warriors: Leveraging the Role of Social Media and Partnerships in Health Communications

Presenter: Jill Herzog, Program Manager, Real Warriors Campaign (Booz Allen Hamilton)

Learning Objectives:


Participants will be able to apply best practices for communicating positive aspects of seeking


treatment for psychological health concerns, and to exemplify various, successful creative concepts that resonate with service members and their families, allowing them to feel comfortable seeking appropriate psychological health treatment and care. Participants will identify how to integrate social marketing theories and social media tools into public


education campaigns, targeting hard-to-reach populations, including active-duty service members and members of the National Guard and Reserve, and how to effectively measure the impact of social media tools and techniques in the context of a larger, integrated strategic communications program. Participants will be able to apply best practices in developing a measurement framework for


organizational social media outreach, including which metrics to track, how to track them and how to interpret them. Most importantly, they will learn to make the data valuable for media outreach, sustainability impact and stakeholder buy-in. Participants will identify how a public education campaign can successfully use partnerships to reach


the military community with messages encouraging service members and veterans to seek treatment for psychological health concerns. Participants will identify how they can utilize free and readily available Real Warriors Campaign materials and resources, including the campaign’s new mobile site, more than seventy five (75) articles, twelve (12) Real Warrior’s profiles, and an online confidential chat feature, to help service members and families know they are not alone and encourage them to seek appropriate psychological health care or treatment.


While speaking about President Obama’s initiative to strengthen military families in February 2011, First Lady Michelle Obama said that the “battles of military families and our troops continue. The residual effects of deployments go on and on for a lifetime.”

Although current military conflicts have lower casualty rates than previous wars, many service members are returning from deployments with invisible wounds such as psychological health concerns and traumatic brain injuries. While it has been proven that the risk of combat stress or depression increases with each deployment, many service members do not seek treatment, citing perceived bias, fear of discrimination, and distrust of the system as barriers to seeking care.

In May 2009, the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) launched the Real Warriors Campaign, a multimedia public education initiative designed to encourage help-seeking behavior among service members and veterans with invisible wounds. The campaign features video profiles and PSAs of individuals who reached out for help to demonstrate that effective treatments work and to educate service members and families about available resources.

Prior to the campaign’s launch, in-depth focus groups and one-on-one interviews were conducted with senior military leaders and service members from each military branch. The findings helped guide designing messaging, establishing partnerships, and selecting appropriate communications tools. The campaign uses social media networks, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Troop Tube, and traditional media channels to reach service members, and measures the effectiveness of these efforts using numerous tools, including Google Analytics, Vocus, TwitterAnalyzer and Facebook's Insights.

The campaign’s traditional media outreach secured daily coverage of its PSAs in 177 countries, including Iraq and Afghanistan, reaching 1.5 million members of the military community weekly. The PSAs have

CDC 2011 National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media, August 9-11, Atlanta, Georgia

aired domestically on 270 civilian stations, driving audiences to the campaign website and increasing online engagement through Facebook and Twitter.

In addition to traditional and social media outreach, the campaign has disseminated information to target audiences through a grassroots partnership program of military, nonprofit and advocacy organizations, and local groups. An initial network of 24 partner organizations established prior to campaign launch has grown to more than 140 organizations, promoting the campaign through 118 articles and announcements reaching more than 4.75 million individuals.

Participants will learn how the Real Warriors Campaign has utilized video profiles and applied social marketing theories, Web 2.0 technologies, social and traditional media outreach, and grassroots outreach to engage service members. They will learn about the successful application of a variety of communication tools and technologies to engage audiences, how to use these methods, and how to communicate the positive aspects of seeking treatment for psychological health concerns. Participants will receive a brief on the Real Warriors Campaign from the Program Manager, including lessons learned, insights into next phases of the campaign, best practices on developing a partnership program, and using social marketing and media to communicate a public health education campaign within the military culture.