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Communications Strategy for Updating of Pandemic Flu Mitigation Guidelines


  • Influenza pandemics can cause widespread illness and death.
  • Communications about nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) can mitigate the impact.
  • Promotion of personal, community, and environmental NPIs during flu pandemics
The Challenge

An influenza pandemic is a major public health threat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) needed a communications strategy to notify communities of the latest scientific findings on nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) in the wake of the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) pandemic. In particular, communities needed to know about Pre-Pandemic Planning Guidelines and the updated pandemic severity assessment framework, which can help state, tribal, local, and territorial (STLT) public health departments with future pre-pandemic planning on NPI use.

The Approach

The communications strategy Abt developed under a contract with the CDC targeted two groups. The primary group consisted of STLT public health departments and public health communicators. The secondary group comprised individuals, households, childcare facilities/K-12 schools, colleges, universities, community/faith-based groups, workplaces, and event planners. The strategy developed materials to reach these audiences in multiple ways. In particular, the secondary group needed tailored communications that would vary with the type of group and its level of engagement with emergency planning.

The Results

The project developed a variety of materials, including:

  • Press releases
  • Scripts for conference calls with primary audience members
  • An FAQ document
  • Talking points for use with the media
  • A brochure for conferences and meetings
  • Social media posts

Along with preparing the materials in the communications strategy, we provided a dissemination strategy to get the information into the right hands. We also developed an evaluation strategy to determine whether these efforts hit their mark.  In addition, we created posters for each secondary audience.