Springboard: A New Online Resource for Health Communication

Oct 03

Springboard for Health Communications LogoHave you ever had a client ask you to brainstorm an idea for a new project or campaign, but you weren’t really sure where to
find some initial inspiration? Springboard for Health Communications (Springboard) is a new online resource from Johns Hopkins University Health Communications Capacity Collaborative (JHU HC3) that aggregates resources related to health communication while also knocking down the silos between practitioners through a social environment. Despite the impactful work being completed around the world, until now there has never been one go-to place to share best practices and lessons learned.

We interviewed Soma Ghoshal, the Global Program Manager for Healthcare at NetHope, Inc. and Springboard Community Manager, about the platform and its capabilities.

How would you describe the Springboard and its purpose?

Springboard is an online resource for health communications practitioners to come together and learn about the newest trends in the space. Members are able to partake in conversations around best practices, research, events, and much more in addition to networking with one another and learning about new organizations and campaigns.

Who should join and how do you sign up?

Anyone who is interested in health communication can sign up! It doesn’t matter whether you are an expert, a student, or working in the field — Springboard is a space for everyone interested in health communication to come together and learn from each other. Simply go to www.healthcomspringboard.org to register (it takes less than 5 minutes), and then log in to start posting. We encourage new members to post an introduction about them after singing up to let all the members know what they are interested in.

What types of conversations will members be able to participate in?

All sorts of conversations are happening on Springboard. We’ve seen members share articles on education entertainment programming and sexual responsibility in young adults to campaigns like the ALS bucket challenge can be applied to global health causes. Of course, there has also been discussion on health communication and messaging for the Ebola outbreak. Members post health communication-focused events happening all over the world as well as videos and photos. In addition, some members post new job or grant opportunities.

How does the Springboard fill a gap for health communicators globally?

Springboard is unique because it focuses solely on fostering discussion around health communication and offering a forum for global health events. While there may be other sites that discuss global health, Springboard does a great job of bringing together health communication practitioners from academia, NGO, government, to private sector so that we may learn from each other and offer more effective health communication campaigns.

What have you found most enjoyable about being a member of the Springboard online community?

I love hearing the different perspectives that are brought onto Springboard. If one member posts a campaign and has an opinion on it, then it is almost guaranteed that two other members will have a completely different angle or approach. Those perspectives strengthen our understanding of what motivates behavior change to make us more impactful practitioners at the end of the day.

We encourage our colleagues and peers involved in the social marketing community, and beyond, to sign up for Springboard. When you do, comment below and share your experience with us!

Soma Ghoshal is the Global Program Manager for Healthcare at NetHope, Inc. She works on the HC3 Project on the ICT & Innovation team as a Community Manager on Springboard and leads various projects, including the Innovation Webinar series, NetHope Working Group, and research. Soma has her MPH in Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation from The George Washington University.

Introducing Social Squared: Ogilvy’s Framework for Applying Behavior Change Theory to Digital and Social Media

Aug 28

Behavior Change Theory should underlie all health communications campaign planning. However, often communication professionals decide on a Tumblr or Pinterest account because it’s the “latest thing,” instead of having solid theory-based reasoning for engaging on a particular social or digital platform.

To ensure Ogilvy’s approach to digital and social media was always strategic, Ogilvy designed the Social Squared Framework and business offering to bring together the three key aspects of an effective behavior change program in social media:

  • Strategy-Based Theory Constructs
  • Audience Insights
  • Digital Solutions


Levers for Behavior Change

We identified theoretical constructs that are most applicable to digital and social media. Many behavior change theories are used in designing behavior change programs. They work for individual, community change and system change. We use these theories to underlie our social marketing strategies. Each of these theories is made up of constructs that point to ways to intervene in behavior.  Ogilvy identified the constructs that are best supported by social and digital media.  They include but are not limited to:

  • Cues to Action
  • Intentions to Act
  • Normative Perceptions/Subjective Norms
  • Observational Learning
  • Outcome Expectations
  • Reinforcement
  • Perceived Behavior Control
  • Perceived Severity
  • Perceived Susceptibility
  • Self-Efficacy
  • Social Support
  • Spheres of Influence


Audience Insights

The Social Squared Framework puts a digital lens on audience insights. In additional to traditional research, we analyze the following questions using social media listening tools to answer them.

  • What digital platforms are our audiences using?
  • How often do they use them and for what purposes?
  • What is their behavior like on these platforms?
  • How can we capitalize on their current behaviors to achieve our goals?
  • How does our audience leverage search to find the information they need on our topic?
  • Is our audience discussing or searching for our issue, topic or client online?
  • What are they saying about it?
  • How can we fill a gap or need in the online landscape to further our behavior-change goals?


Digital Solutions

After bringing together our theory-based strategies and social insights, we then pick the most appropriate digital solutions or platforms to develop the communication program that helps move the behavior change needle. These solutions might include community creation and management on social sites, a mobile application, visual content creation, and more.

In additional, to this business offering and framework, Ogilvy has a Social Squared team, a group of digital specialists with a comprehensive offering of products and services that are at the forefront of digital trends.  We customize all our solutions to meet the unique needs of our clients and achieve their communications and behavior change goals.

How to Apply the Social Squared Framework

The Social Squared Framework is a great planning tool and here’s an example of how we used it for The Heart Truth® . (click to enlarge)


The Heart Truth® kicked off American Heart Month with the #MyHeart28 Challenge, an action-oriented program platform to continue to emphasize heart healthy behavior change in program messaging.  We used the Social Squared Framework to plan the campaign using our behavior change constructs and audience insights to come up with the most appropriate and strategic digital solutions (See graphic).  Facebook was used as the core platform for the challenge, as it is where our audience is most engaged around taking action. Throughout the month, fans accepted the daily challenges and shared how they were making changes for a healthy heart and reducing heart disease risk in 2014. This small-step approach included actions for making heart healthy lifestyle changes including increasing physical activity, and stress management, smoking cessation, blood pressure and cholesterol control, and healthy eating.

The Results

  • #MyHeart28 Challenge created more than 7,550 Facebook actions (e.g., likes, shares) and engaged more than 750 unique Twitter followers,which generated 9.5 million impressions.
  • Throughout the #MyHeart28 Challenge, the daily posts received a cumulative 447 comments, 5,404 likes, and 1,703 shares.
  • The Heart Truth’s® Pinterest board received 1,527 new followers,567 repins, 32 likes, and 6 comments during the month of February.
  • Facebook fans expressed enthusiasm, posed and answered questions, offered tips, and shared the actions they took to lower their risk for heart disease during the #MyHeart28 Challenge.
  • The Heart Truth® engaged bloggers to be Ambassadors for the challenge further solidifying social norming. As an Ambassador, the blogger added to that day’s social content, posted quotes and advice on Twitter, and shared photos/posts on Facebook. Combined, the Challenge Day Ambassadors had over 5,000 unique monthly visitors, 6,000 Twitter followers, 2,000 Facebook fans, and 1,500 Pinterest followers.
  • We also had qualitative data in the comments showing that people were following along and taking the action recommended in our challenge.

Back from NCHCMM – Feeling Inspired and Connected

Aug 22

This was my first NCHCMM.  Wasn’t sure what to expect but was very excited for my colleagues who were presenting on outstanding projects – see Emily Zeigenfuse’s earlier post on the Ogilvy sessions at the conference.  I was also looking forward to seeing old friends and colleagues–and meeting new ones.

What I didn’t expect is to come back refreshed and inspired by all the innovative projects happening around the country and by the energy, enthusiasm, and creativity of my fellow public health communicators.  As someone who works at the national level, I especially appreciated meeting and talking with folks who work at the state and local levels.  So many great stories about their experiences and challenges with creating healthier communities.  And I truly enjoyed the sessions that brought it back to the basics – why we love this work, why it matters, and how can we can do it better.  They helped me to see the forest again.

Some of my personal highlights:

  • Watching Jennifer Pahlka’s TED Talk on making government run better – permission-less and open like the Internet – and brainstorming ways to encourage citizens to get involved in solving public health issues.  Many of our ideas got posted on TalkBacktoTED.
  • Learning how a small budget smoking cessation campaign in Vermont underwent a research-based rebranding effort, which resulted in the 802Quits campaign.  (For non-Vermonters, 802 is the Vermont area code. The state is so small, they have one area code.)  The work is beautiful, powerful, and spot on in every way.  But, what’s more important is the outcome: large increases in visits to the website, orders of nicotine-replacement therapy products, and calls to the helpline.
  • Exploring the importance of storytelling.  With the theme of the conference being “What’s Your Story?,” many sessions focused on the importance of telling good stories about our work and about the impact of our efforts.  Opening keynote presenter and author, Paul Smith, defined story very simply: Fact + Emotion = Story.  And he emphasized that we tend to not remember facts, but we can’t forget a good story.  How true!  Throughout the conference, we heard/watched many compelling stories — and one session focused on how to tell stories.    This is near and dear to my Ogilvy heart, where we have focused on the importance of story telling for many years (long before it was ‘en mode’) and our new-ish CEO, Chris Graves, is an international storytelling evangelist and trainer.

For next year, I hope to see the focus shift on how to find personal stories and make them into compelling testimonials.  I can say from experience that getting real people stories is not easy, especially for professionals who impact public health at the population level.  802Quits works at the individual level through its quit-line counselors and even their team had a difficult time finding stories and getting folks to agree to be video taped.  Case in point: it took them 18 months to find a story about a pregnant woman who quit smoking using the quit line.

A big Ogilvy thanks to the CDC and NPHIC organizers for a great conference and to all the presenters who put lots of thought and preparation into their sessions.  It was a great experience and I’m already thinking about 2015.

Making Sense of the Data: Using Analysis for Digital Planning

Aug 20

Yesterday I spoke as part of a panel discussing social media measurement and analysis. I was joined by Scott Jones of IQ Solutions, Laura Zauderer-Baldwin, of CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD), and moderated by Jana Thomas of Porter Novelli. Each discussed different aspects of social media measurement and analysis.

Scott spoke about how media events can be monitored to provide critical data to health professionals. These announcements, such as Selena Gomez having lupus, often drive major interest in these topic areas, as well as visits to government websites that address these topics. Agencies need to be prepared in advance for the surge in interest by implementing good web practices, such as search engine optimization. I found his example about how the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) used data to connect suicide to bullying particularly interesting. As a result of the data, the Agency put greater resources into an anti-bullying app for teens.

Laura spoke about her work with the NCBDDD to evaluate its social media architecture, and make changes based on the results. Laura discussed the Center’s efforts to create comprehensive dashboards that measure its reach, exposure, and engagement, which staff use to plan for future campaigns. She also spoke to the Center’s decision to transition from five Twitter accounts to one account that represents the entire Center. This decision—as you might expect—was challenging because the Center provides information on many different topics, and all will need to be represented in the one account. Unless you work on a public health topic that is narrow in focus (and lucky you!), this is something we all struggle with: trying to balance getting out all the messages that are important to our mission, while also taking into account what is interesting to our audiences.

This balancing act was discussed as part of my presentation, which focused on tactics for overcoming the decline in Facebook organic reach. Measurement is a critical part of this. You can use measurement to figure out what topic areas your audience finds most engaging, as well as which content types (e.g., fill in blanks). You can then use these as levers to increase your engagement on Facebook, which will in turn increase your reach. In addition to increasing engagement, I discussed three other tactics:

  • Use paid media to promote or boost your posts to fans and other audiences;
  • Diversify your social platforms, so you have other outlets to get out your message more directly to your fans; and
  • Weigh the costs and benefits to Facebook participation. Evaluate whether you have the resources (both in staff time and a paid media budget) to effectively run a Facebook page.

There are several panels during NCHCMM focused on social media measurement or data, which speaks to the importance of this topic in health communications. It seems like we’re all looking for guidance on how to most effectively use the mountains of data available to measure our effectiveness; in particular, how social/digital strategies can affect behavior change (which was the topic of a feisty Q&A at the end of our session yesterday).

What do you find to be the most challenging part of measuring social media effectiveness?

Making Sense of the Data: Using Analysis to Inform Digital Planning

Yesterday I spoke as part of a panel discussing social media measurement and analysis. I was joined by Scott Jones of IQ Solutions, Laura Zauderer-Baldwin, of CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD), and moderated by Jana Thomas of Porter Novelli. Each discussed different aspects of social media measurement and analysis.

Scott spoke about how media events can be monitored to provide critical data to health professionals. These announcements, such as Selena Gomez having lupus, often drive major interest in these topic areas, as well as visits to government websites that address these topics. Agencies need to be prepared in advance for the surge in interest by implementing good web practices, such as search engine optimization. I found his example about how the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) used data to connect suicide to bullying particularly interesting. As a result of the data, the Agency put greater resources into an anti-bullying app for teens.

Laura spoke about her work with the NCBDDD to evaluate its social media architecture, and make changes based on the results. Laura discussed the Center’s efforts to create comprehensive dashboards that measure its reach, exposure, and engagement, which staff use to plan for future campaigns. She also spoke to the Center’s decision to transition from five Twitter accounts to one account that represents the entire Center. This decision—as you might expect—was challenging because the Center provides information on many different topics, and all will need to be represented in the one account. Unless you work on a public health topic that is narrow in focus (and lucky you!), this is something we all struggle with: trying to balance getting out all the messages that are important to our mission, while also taking into account what is interesting to our audiences.

This balancing act was discussed as part of my presentation, which focused on tactics for overcoming the decline in Facebook organic reach. Measurement is a critical part of this. You can use measurement to figure out what topic areas your audience finds most engaging, as well as which content types (e.g., fill in blanks). You can then use these as levers to increase your engagement on Facebook, which will in turn increase your reach. In addition to increasing engagement, I discussed three other tactics:

· Use paid media to promote or boost your posts to fans and other audiences;

· Diversify your social platforms, so you have other outlets to get out your message more directly to your fans; and

· Weigh the costs and benefits to Facebook participation. Evaluate whether you have the resources (both in staff time and a paid media budget) to effectively run a Facebook page.

There are several panels during NCHCMM focused on social media measurement or data, which speaks to the importance of this topic in health communications. It seems like we’re all looking for guidance on how to most effectively use the mountains of data available to measure our effectiveness, in particular, how social can affect behavior change (which was the topic of a feisty Q&A at the end of our session yesterday).

What do you find to be the most challenging part of measuring social media effectiveness?

Making Sense of the Data: Using Analysis to Inform Digital Planning

Yesterday I spoke as part of a panel discussing social media measurement and analysis. I was joined by Scott Jones of IQ Solutions, Laura Zauderer-Baldwin, of CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD), and moderated by Jana Thomas of Porter Novelli. Each discussed different aspects of social media measurement and analysis.

Scott spoke about how media events can be monitored to provide critical data to health professionals. These announcements, such as Selena Gomez having lupus, often drive major interest in these topic areas, as well as visits to government websites that address these topics. Agencies need to be prepared in advance for the surge in interest by implementing good web practices, such as search engine optimization. I found his example about how the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) used data to connect suicide to bullying particularly interesting. As a result of the data, the Agency put greater resources into an anti-bullying app for teens.

Laura spoke about her work with the NCBDDD to evaluate its social media architecture, and make changes based on the results. Laura discussed the Center’s efforts to create comprehensive dashboards that measure its reach, exposure, and engagement, which staff use to plan for future campaigns. She also spoke to the Center’s decision to transition from five Twitter accounts to one account that represents the entire Center. This decision—as you might expect—was challenging because the Center provides information on many different topics, and all will need to be represented in the one account. Unless you work on a public health topic that is narrow in focus (and lucky you!), this is something we all struggle with: trying to balance getting out all the messages that are important to our mission, while also taking into account what is interesting to our audiences.

This balancing act was discussed as part of my presentation, which focused on tactics for overcoming the decline in Facebook organic reach. Measurement is a critical part of this. You can use measurement to figure out what topic areas your audience finds most engaging, as well as which content types (e.g., fill in blanks). You can then use these as levers to increase your engagement on Facebook, which will in turn increase your reach. In addition to increasing engagement, I discussed three other tactics:

  • Use paid media to promote or boost your posts to fans and other audiences;
  • Diversify your social platforms, so you have other outlets to get out your message more directly to your fans; and
  • Weigh the costs and benefits to Facebook participation. Evaluate whether you have the resources (both in staff time and a paid media budget) to effectively run a Facebook page.

There are several panels during NCHCMM focused on social media measurement or data, which speaks to the importance of this topic in health communications. It seems like we’re all looking for guidance on how to most effectively use the mountains of data available to measure our effectiveness, in particular, how social can affect behavior change (which was the topic of a feisty Q&A at the end of our session yesterday).

What do you find to be the most challenging part of measuring social media effectiveness?

Ogilvy Takes on the 2014 National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media

Aug 18

Ogilvy’s Social Marketing Group is headed to Atlanta this week for the National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media. This is one of the Social Marketing Group’s favorite conferences, as many of us work in the health communications space, and it’s always inspiring and motivating to learn from the work of others.

Ogilvy will present at several sessions on our work, including:

Overcoming Facebook Zero for Health: Strategies for Managing the Decline in Organic Facebook Reach I’ll kick off the first breakout group of the conference with a presentation that offers four strategies for organizations to manage declining organic Facebook reach. The session will feature several government agencies that have successfully used these tactics to increase reach. Tuesday at 2 p.m. in the session “Social Media Measurement and Analysis”

Social Squared: Applying Behavior Change Theory in Social Media Campaign Planning Sarah Van Velsor will introduce the Social Marketing Group’s business offering, SocialSquared, which combines our expertise in both social media and social marketing to achieve the most effective behavior change results for our clients, during the poster sessions. Wednesday from 9:30-10:30 a.m., 2:45-3:45 p.m.

R U Using SMS to Communicate with Youth in Urban Communities? Meghan McMahon from our Social@Ogilvy team will explore lessons learned from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s i2i: What R U Looking 4, which promotes respectful, nonviolent dating relationships among 11- to 14-year-old youth in urban communities. Thursday at 8 a.m. in the session “Using Digital Media to Reach Teens”

OK2TALK: Using Tumblr to Give Youth a Voice to Discuss Mental Illness Sarah will present on OK2TALK, a campaign by the National Association of Broadcasters to reduce stigma around mental illness. The campaign drove teens and young adults to a Tumblr-based online community where they could open up and share their personal stories. Thursday at 8 a.m. in the session “Innovative Digital Platforms and Strategies”

Follow all the Ogilvy Washington attendees on Twitter, along with the conference hash tag (#HCMMconf):

For any attendees reading this, what sessions are you most looking forward to? I’m excited about the opening plenary with Paul Smith on “Lead with a Story: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives That Captivate, Convince, and Inspire.” Ogilvy frequently incorporates storytelling into our communications work, and I look forward to hearing his take on it.

Hope to see you in Atlanta!

Taking Cover

Aug 12

Growing up in Colorado, I spent most of my free time outside. Even when we had a morning blizzard, I could sunbathe in the afternoon-surrounded by beautiful snowdrifts to catch the rays. Baby oil was the suntan lotion of choice. The badge of honor on Monday mornings was to show off our raccoon eyes from wearing goggles while skiing on a sunny spring day. Living a “mile high” (and that is before the new marijuana law) meant we were closer to the sun. I could cringe now thinking about how we damaged our skin, but that would just cause more wrinkles. I never thought about skin cancer-only how to have that ‘healthy’ glow and I was not alone.

Unfortunately, our actions as children can catch up to us. On July 29, 2014, the Surgeon General released a new report — a Call to Action to raise awareness about skin cancer, which is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. Nearly 5 million Americans are treated for skin cancer every year and the medical costs are soaring to over $8.1 billion. The report states that over the past 30 years, the number of Americans who had skin cancer are higher than the number for all cancers combined. Rates of melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer, increased more than 200%. There are more than 63,000 new cases and 9,000 deaths from melanoma each year.

What is the cause for these alarming statistics? Almost all of these cancers are caused by UV exposure from the sun or indoor tanning devices. I remember television commercials which showed a beautiful women with a dark ‘San Tropez” tan enjoying the good life in her splendid pool with an azure sea behind her. We all wanted to be that woman. Having a tan meant health and wellness. We were so wrong! Tanning is the skin’s response to sun damage.

While it is important to have an active life, we need do it safely outdoors. We just need to cover up. The Surgeon General recommends the following steps: 1) protective gear such as a hat, sunglasses, clothing; 2) seeking shade; and 3) using sunscreens with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher especially during midday. The reports urges all communities to come together to raise awareness on the need to take cover.

Passionate About Sex

Jun 02

Recently, I gave the commencement address for the Wayne State University School of Medicine. Soon after I received this invitation, I asked some of my colleagues if they could recall their commencement speakers and their speeches. Uniformly, none could remember! So, in order to not join that esteemed collection of forgotten addresses, they suggested that I highlight what I am passionate about, such as SEX.  Of course, when I first mentioned “sex” in my speech, I knew what most people were thinking, and that it would have made for a most entertaining and memorable speech. However, I had something else in mind that I hoped would be equally intriguing.

I’ve been interested in the impact of “sex,” which connotes the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women, and “gender,” which refers to the psycho-social component of health, ever since the NIH Revitalization Act was passed in 1993. This law requires the inclusion of women and minorities in phase 3 clinical trials and analyses by sex, gender and race.

It literally took an act of Congress to begin to address the inequities in biomedical research and health care that have harmed the lives of women through incorrect diagnoses and misguided treatments. For example, women present with different symptoms for cardiovascular disease compared to men. Women may also have microvascular or small coronary artery blockages that could be missed by angiography, and they even have higher mortality rates in the hospital and during the first year after a heart attack. In regard to Alzheimer’s disease, two-thirds of 5.1 million people suffering from this devastating disease are women, and it is not just because women live longer. The impact of sex differences in gene expression may be a potential explanation.

During the week of May 12, 2014, the NIH announced that it will now expand its policy to include analyses by sex during the pre-clinical phase, which includes animal studies and basic research involving cell cultures. This is important for understanding the safety and efficacy of drugs, as well as how and why diseases manifest differently in men and women.

All of this leads us to the exciting world of precision or personalized medicine. Sex and gender can serve as the building blocks for this dynamic evolution in health care. It is the new frontier of medicine where genetic profiling will lead to improved diagnosis and targeted therapies. This will increasingly transform how we practice medicine on Earth and in space.

Courting Young Invisibles: A Success Story?

Mar 13

“So do you go to any websites that are .coms or .nets, or do you mainly just stick with .govs?”

As I sat eating spaghetti with my roommates on Tuesday night and loading a video on my phone, I didn’t expect much more than five minutes of awkward humor. It wasn’t until Between Two Ferns host Zach Galifinakis asked President Obama about his web surfing preferences that the president’s appearance was made apparent: this wasn’t just entertainment, but an advertisement for health insurance.

Though it may seem like an attempt to combat declining enrollment rates in the final weeks of open enrollment on Healthcare.gov, Mashable reports that President Obama’s appearance on the popular web series has been in the works since last summer when his administration invited representatives from Funny or Die “and other celebrities and creatives” to discuss ways to promote healthcare to consumers, particularly “young invincibles”—or young invisibles, in the words of Galifinakis. Given that this video appeared multiple times on my Facebook newsfeed with commentary like “amazing” and “hilarious,” and without mention of its underlying motive, it seems that it was effective in engaging this group in a language its members understand and respond to. And although web videos aren’t exactly cutting edge—having a video go viral has been the most coveted metric of success for marketers since streaming video online was possible—it does show that the government is capable of creating contemporary content that leverages trends and is open to taking risks in the digital space.

While there’s no doubt as to the video’s popularity and viral appeal, the real question is: is it making people sign up for health insurance? Traffic to Healthcare.gov was 40% higher on Tuesday than on Monday, receiving nearly 900,000 visits.  The increase in web traffic is impressive, but it remains to be seen if it will convert to increased enrollment numbers. With just a few weeks left to go, we won’t have long to wait to see if President Obama and his viral video achieves the dream of moving past engagement and web hits and actually sparks behavior change.

Talking Shop about Disasters and Technology at SXSW 2014

Mar 11

A Perfect Storm

The Insurance Information Institute (III) joined with the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH), the Red Cross, and the National Weather Service (NWS) at SXSW Interactive Festival to talk shop about how technology is helping them improve how they engage with and support consumers to prepare better and respond to disasters.

With hundreds of panels, sessions, and events at SXSW focused on engagement, new technology (can you say wearables!) and social good and innovation across many topic areas, there were only a handful of sessions I saw that focused on crisis and disaster communications. Kudos to the III for leading the conversation on Saturday, March 8th.

Those attending were very interested in learning how leading organizations, such as the NWS and Red Cross, are thinking about the use of technology during disasters. Many were volunteers in their local communities or supported community programs to alert residents in times of crisis. Check out my synopsis of the session on our ogilvydo blog.

Do Health and Happiness Go Hand in Hand?

Feb 21

Two nights ago my husband and I stumbled across a growing viral challenge called 100happydays.  Simply put, the challenge draws attention to the fact that in our state of busy schedules and constant connection to communication (e.g., Facebook, Twitter), we as a society are taking less and less time to enjoy the moment, appreciate the joy, and bask in the happiness of life.

As such, the challenge is asking people to commit to 100happydays.  For 100 days, we are to reflect on one thing each day that makes up happy and share a picture that represents that moment of happiness, thus hopefully creating a habit of “stopping to smell the roses.” People who’ve successfully completed the challenge have claimed to: (1) now recognize what makes them happy, (2) be in a better mood, (3) feel grateful for the blessing in their lives, and (4) become more optimistic about life in general.

Well what doesn’t sound good about that? Sign us up!

So we officially started #100happydays!  And in pausing to reflect on my moment of happiness from today (which happens to be playing ball with my Labrador puppy this morning), I got to thinking…if all of these positive emotions result from reflecting on happiness, I wonder what other health benefits might result? Is there a link a between health and happiness? Could state of mind equal state of body?

Apparently yes! According to a research study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), benefits of positive mental health go a long way.  In a 2007 study, that followed more than 6,000 men and women aged 25 to 74 for 20 years, Laura Kubzanksy (HSPH associate professor of society, human development, and health) found that “emotional vitality—a sense of enthusiasm, of hopefulness, of engagement in life, and the ability to face life’s stresses with emotional balance—appears to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.”  However, Kubzansky is quick to recognize that it’s not a simple as “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” and notes that social context and environments also play a large role in a person’s ability to get to state of well-being.

According to another study published in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being in 2011, a review of more than 160 studies of human and animal subjects found that — all else being equal — happy people tend to live longer and experience better health than their unhappy peers.

So how do we achieve happiness? Aside from this 100happydays challenge, how do we really learn to live in the moment?

Matt Killingsworth’s TEDTalk shares insights as to what influences happiness, which was garnered from his research on happiness levels in more than 600,000 people. The video offers helpful ways to be mindful of your own happiness.

Another interesting result of the 100happydays – happiness is contagious! Sharing your happiness and optimism with others increases the probability that others around you will be happier.  So I challenge everyone to participate in 100happydays. Let’s see what we can accomplish for both our mental and physical health, as well as for society, by simply pausing each day to take a photo and reflect on a single happy moment. What are you waiting for? Stop reading. Start finding your happy.