Skip to main content
Working with CDC’s School Health Branch to plan social media hashtag campaign

For the past eight years, ORAU has provided support to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC)’s School Health Branch (SHB) in the areas of training, evaluation, and communication. This multi-pronged approach has assisted SHB in providing evidence-based and audience-centric tools and resources to support their mission of promoting the health and well-being of children and adolescents in schools.

One of the key activities of SHB is to fund state education agencies (as well as provide them technical assistance, resources, and tools) to implement and evaluate activities for students to improve nutrition, physical education, and physical activity. Other key activities are to prevent obesity (thereby reducing the risk for chronic diseases in adulthood) and manage students’ chronic health conditions. It is vital that SHB communicate the grantee’s successes and the impact of those activities in an engaging, concise, and meaningful way. Doing so will demonstrate the value of the cooperative agreement and SHB technical assistance to those making policy and funding decisions for school health.

Over the past four years, ORAU has written 35 original success stories and edited 16 others for consistency to highlight the work of SHB grantees. To create the stories, ORAU staff coordinated and interviewed grantees to tell their story and showcase the impact the programs (and thus CDC funds) are having on the health of our nation’s children.

Working with CDC’s School Health Branch to plan social media hashtag campaign

In 2018 and 2019, ORAU worked with SHB communication staff to develop more innovative ways of showcasing the success stories and created a video series featuring the stories of four grantees. ORAU wrote the script, traveled to film the grantees at a conference, and then produced eight separate videos. Half of the videos were used in a hashtag campaign to promote the launch of CDC Healthy Schools’ new web page featuring all four of the longer videos. The hashtag campaign encouraged people to share their idea of a healthy school and used the hashtag #CDCHealthySchools. ORAU developed a guidance document and draft messages for SHB to use in executing the campaign.

After seeing great success within the initial two weeks of the campaign, SHB leadership made the decision to extend the campaign for the remainder of the month. The month-long campaign resulted in more than 1,500 total mentions across Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and blogs; almost nine million impressions on Twitter alone; and more than 1,000 video views on CDC’s YouTube channel. This user-generated content can now be used by SHB for years to come. The campaign was seen as such a success that Branch Chief Holly Hunt nominated it for the CDC National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Director Awards in Creative Communications.

For more information about CDC-funded school health projects or to view the video testimonials, visit www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/stateprograms.htm.

Screen capture from the #CDCHealthySchools social media hashtag campaign

Screen capture from the #CDCHealthySchools social media hashtag campaign

Screen capture from the #CDCHealthySchools social media hashtag campaign

Screen capture from the #CDCHealthySchools social media hashtag campaign

Contact us

For information about ORAU’s health communication, preparedness and response needs, contact Freddy Gray, director, Health Communication and Preparedness programs, at 865.576.0029 or freddy.gray@orau.org.