How Right Now: Developing and Evaluating a National Communications Campaign

Tuesday, August 24, 2021 4:00 - 5:30 PM (EDT)


As COVID-19 spread across the nation, Americans had to stay at home, socially distance and take steps to protect themselves and loved ones. Many experienced losses of loved ones, jobs, and financial security . Reports of mental health concerns increased. In response to this need, the CDC Foundation, in partnership with CDC, contracted with NORC at the University of Chicago to develop a national research-based, culturally-responsive communications campaign aimed at addressing the mental health and emotional well-being needs of four populations disproportionately affected by COVID.

To inform the development of the campaign, rapid but robust formative research was conducted. It explored: 1) audiences’ urgent mental health issues, 2) feelings about social distancing/reopening, 3) definitions of resilience, 4) mental health information needs and available mental health resources/support, and 5) trusted information sources. What resulted was How Right Now (Que Hacer Ahora in Spanish), a comprehensive communications campaign aimed at reaching high-risk populations who are facing adverse mental health challenges due to COVID-19. The campaign strives to achieve this goal by offering evidenced-based, audience-centric messages that represent the real, everyday experiences and emotions that these audiences are having and address them in actionable ways and in visually appealing formats. To reach the communities it seeks to serve, the campaign leverages trusted organizational partners and individual champions to be the voices through which these messages and materials are disseminated and become embedded within the communities they serve. Other strategies employed to reach and engage its audiences have included digital and social media buys (in English and Spanish), radio media buys (in Spanish), and the use of influencers and celebrities (in English and Spanish).

Since its official launch in August 2020, the campaign has had to adapt to a shifting environment as the virus spread and be responsive to the ever-changing needs of the communities it seeks to serve. On-going process evaluation has enabled the campaign to be responsive and adaptive in this way. Additionally, the campaign has employed a mixed method design to its outcome evaluation, drawing from across social media and website metrics, national survey data, partner activity reports, amongst other sources, to evaluate the campaign on measures related to the context for implementation, reach, and impact on coping and information seeking. The results will be released in July 2021 and will be presented at this session. Additionally, plans for mental health and emotional wellbeing efforts at CDC will be shared.

This session will help attendees:
1. Describe the process of conducting rapid formative research in a remote context
2. Describe the process of developing and tailoring evidenced-based, audience-centric messages
3. Assess the possible measures that can be used to evaluate a communication campaign


Amelia Burke-Garcia, PhD

Project Director
NORC at the University of Chicago

Cynthia Crick, MPH

CDC Campaign Lead
Division of Population Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Jennifer Berktold, PhD

Evaluation Lead
NORC at the University of Chicago

Craig Thomas, PhD

Division of Population Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Turquoise Sidibe, MPH

Associate Vice President of Emergency Response
CDC Foundation
225 Reformation Parkway
Suite 200
Canton, GA 30114
(770) 509-5555
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Billing Contact:
Loree Tengzelius
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

© NPHIC. All rights reserved.