UCLA Fielding School of Public Health Magazine - Summer 2021 | Our Path Forward

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over the last year, particularly among youth. The lighthearted videos, incorporating public health messaging into songs that are trending at the time, have covered topics ranging from guidance on mask-wearing, social greetings, and holiday celebrations to pandemic-related advice on self-care activities, virtual dating, and safe sex. MCIP team member Jane Lee says the project has taught her the importance of tailoring communications to the intended audience. “There are no graphics that will be universally received in the same way,” she says. “I quickly found out that messaging that might be humorous to one individual might come across as bleak and/or irrelevant to another.” That’s true not just when it comes to different languages and cultures, but across social media platforms. For example, Instagram and TikTok tend to reach younger age

MCIP STUDENT PARTICIPANTS (L. TO R.) DOME LUPAC AND NATHALYE LÓPEZ

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groups, whereas Facebook is best for reaching older members of the targeted communities. Members of the MCIP team found, though, that while younger family members are more likely to be English speakers, they seek non-English social media posts that they can use to educate parents and other older members of their community. “Social media is such a great way to reach various audiences because it allows you to test different methodologies at very little cost,” Lee says. “By creating a variety of posts, we were able to identify different elements of graphics that made them more appealing and engaging — whether it’s ways of framing a message, colors, shapes, pictures, or density of words.” In addition to the social media campaign, through its website, MCIP provides printable infographics and social media posts for use by community organizations and health agencies. For interested community members who don’t use social media, the infographics and videos are delivered via

U C L A F I E L D I N G S C H O O L O F P U B L I C H E A LT H M AG A Z I N E

“ A lot of communities tend to be forgotten in emergencies. Sometimes it takes members of that community to make sure they’re protected, including identifying barriers to accessing the COVID-related resources.” — Nathalye López

email. The project has also collaborated with a student group at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to make COVID-19 information available through text messaging for those who sign up. Some of the MCIP students and faculty members have also presented in community settings. For Nathalye López, one of the highlights of her involvement with the project was the opportunity to give a COVID-19 prevention talk, in Spanish, at the high school she attended. “A lot of communities tend to be forgotten in emergencies,” López says. “Sometimes it takes members of that community to make sure they’re protected, including identifying barriers to accessing the COVID-related resources.” It’s difficult to quantify how many community members MCIP has reached given the nature of social media, where posts are shared, retweeted,

and forwarded, as well as the additional exposure the group’s content has received through publicity from organizations such as the Los Angeles County Medical Association, the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles, and several social services agencies. MCIP also conducted a marketing campaign on Facebook targeted to limited English speakers that reached approximately 40,000 people. The MCIP students say they have gotten as valuable of an education as they’ve given. “The project has helped me appreciate public health as a field that is multidisciplinary and inclusive of so many interests and endeavors, while solving critical issues to bring about positive change,” Jane Lee says. “I’ve learned how powerful health communications can be, and the importance of clear, consistent, and timely messaging,” Nancy Nguyen says. “This isn’t going to be the only major public health event of our lifetime, and as public health professionals we can use this experience to promote health equity by reaching the communities that are, unfortunately, the most affected by a crisis such as a pandemic.”


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