Background: CDC, FDA, HHS, and NIH have collaborated to create a free and easy way for public health partners to reuse our web content, images, video, data, and infographics in their sites, apps, and social media. Through digital media syndication, federal science-based resources can be combined with state and local level information and pushed through to multiple channels. Syndication increases the reach of our existing health messaging, and amplifies its impact so that we all can better address the needs of those at greatest risk.
Program background: With advances in digital media syndication and pilot projects well underway for FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, CDC was primed to undertake projects in other topic areas. And then came Ebola. Because the syndication platform and code for FDA’s pilot project were already in place, we were able to develop and deploy rapidly three new communication products for Ebola: a microsite and two media viewer widgets. These products syndicate and display CDC.gov’s up-to-date Ebola guidelines and recommendations including images and video, but are targeted to specific audiences, and are customizable by partner sites.
Evaluation Methods and Results: The Ebola microsite and media viewers were marketed through channels at the CDC’s Emergency Operations Center, and through ongoing partnerships with state and local health departments and other public health partners. During peak activity on the CDC Ebola website, 90% of syndicated Ebola page views were via the Ebola microsite, and there are currently 52 live microsite instances posted. National and state organizations such as APIC, NPHIC, and the Indiana State Nurses Association placed the microsite prominently within their web sites. Federal partners like NIH and HRSA, as well as state and local health departments, and hospital systems in multiple states posted the microsite. Through syndication we increased the reach of existing CDC content by enabling our public health partners to put our information in path of their audiences.
Conclusions: CDC responded to domestic Ebola communication needs by reusing existing content to develop innovative products that expanded the reach of Ebola messaging. Motivated syndication partners with a need for Ebola content picked up the microsite, and relationships were fostered with a variety of new partners who now use CDC.gov content through syndication.
Implications for research and/or practice: While we are counting as a success the 52 implementations of the Ebola microsite, there are much broader implications for this technology when applied to other audiences and topics. There are dozens of U.S. state and territorial health departments, almost 3000 local U.S. health departments, 5700 registered hospitals, and hundreds of public health organizations that could potentially use our digital content through syndication to meet the needs of their constituencies. We should offer these public health partners microsites on topics that are relevant for a wider U.S. domestic audience to gauge expanded message reach. A broader base of active syndication partners reusing CDC content that addresses common public health needs expands the reach of CDC messaging when and where it’s needed most.