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Director's Blog

Photo: NCHM Director Jay Bernhardt

Health Marketing Musings
from Jay M. Bernhardt, PhD, MPH


On this page:

I got my flu vaccination. Have you gotten yours? If you haven't, it's not too late to prevent getting the flu. In fact, that's the main message of National Influenza Vaccination Week, which is taking place this week, December 8-14, 2008. While flu season in the United States generally runs from October through May, people who get vaccinated in December or later can still protect themselves and others from the flu. Most of the time influenza activity peaks in January. Although the CDC has long promoted annual influenza vaccination as the single most important thing one can do to prevent catching the flu, far too many people still do not take this preventive action. Each year, on average in the United States, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications and about 36,000 people die.

So how can we more effectively spread the message and increase its impact? By combining the research-based traditional (vertical) strategies of expert-based communication, mass media messages, and state and local outreach with new media (horizontal) strategies using interactive, participatory, and peer-to-peer engagement. For the third straight year, the CDC National Center for Health Marketing is collaborating with the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases on the annual Seasonal Flu Vaccination campaign. This year we are reaching out through blogs, social networks, virtual worlds, Twitter, eCards, mobile-ready Web sites, and other interactive, new media technologies to provide information and to motivate people to "Get Vaccinated."

Don't get the flu.  Don't spread the flu.  Get Vaccinated. products featured below are being promoted to partners and the public, but we also count on you to help promote the important message of seasonal flu vaccination. Please help us support this campaign by participating in the following activities:

CDC Get Vaccinated Graphical Button for placement on an organization's Web site. A button is a graphic element used to promote campaigns and causes online. Buttons remind Web site users to get vaccinated. To add an English or Spanish language button to your page, please visit and follow the directions posted there.

I got my flu vaccine.  Have you? Get Vaccinated. "I Got My Flu Vaccine. Have You?" Badge for social networking sites. CDC's MySpace page will feature messages and a social networking badge for friends. To add this badge to an organization or individual's social network site, visit CDC's MySpace page and copy and paste the html code into your site.

Add a link to CDC's Get Vaccinated Health-e-Cards to a Web site or blog. Available in several different designs, the e-Cards include flu vaccination messages for moms and health care providers. The flu e-Cards link to for more information, and also offer a space for inserting a personal message.

Flu poster – I'll protect my baby: I'll get a flu vaccine.Add one of the following Widgets to a Web site (all available from

RSS Reader. This widget will read content from CDC RSS feeds and updated CDC content, including seasonal flu. Content will be displayed in the CDC RSS widget automatically.

Flu Map. Updated weekly, the CDC flu map widget will display a current map of reported flu cases throughout the United States.

Visit on your Mobile Phone to access mobile-ready Web content on seasonal flu.

Follow us on Twitter (CDCFlu) for seasonal influenza messages throughout flu season.

CDC is also reaching out to partners and the public through other interactive media avenues. We are seeking partners to participate in a Content Syndication pilot of content from the Seasonal Flu Web site. Content syndication allows CDC to share timely and relevant content that is automatically and seamlessly updated on partners' Web sites. The display of the content will be consistent with the partners' look and feel of their own sites. Once code is posted, no maintenance is required.

Last week, CDC conducted two Bloginars. The bloginar for mommy bloggers addressed the importance of vaccination, vaccine safety and communication messages. The bloginar for healthcare bloggers discussed ways to encourage colleagues to get vaccinated, to respond to questions about vaccine effectiveness, and to share other clinical updates.

CDC and Whyville, a popular Virtual World for "tweens," (children ages eight through eleven), will collaborate for a third year on an in-world activity to engage them and their grandparents in vaccination activities.

Many of these tools would not be effective without the help of our partners in public health. We would like to thank the National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC), WebMD,,, and QuantiaMD for their help in promoting the annual Seasonal Flu Vaccination campaign. As we work to use the tools of health marketing to promote flu vaccination, please join us in spreading the word. You can get more information on these efforts at

Help spread the word, not the flu.

Posted by Jay on Tuesday, December 9, 2008 at 2:00pm ETQuote iconSubmit a comment


This week, I'm proud to mention a recent success in disseminating a much needed CDC health message at one of our nation's most prestigious museums, the Smithsonian. The original artwork from the Eagle Books series developed for children by CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation will be exhibited at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. and New York City through January 4, 2009. The exhibition, "Through the Eyes of the Eagle: Illustrating Healthy Living for Children," represents the first time the museum has ever featured an exhibition to address health issues that face Native Americans. Though the book series focuses on Native American children, it speaks to all children and their parents about a health issue that increasingly threatens our kids: diabetes.

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Posted by Jay on Thursday, December 4, 2008 at 2:00pm ETQuote iconSubmit a comment


Wikipedia describes a social network as "a social structure made of nodes (which are generally individuals or organizations) that are tied by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as values, visions, ideas, financial exchange, friends, kinship, dislike, conflict, trade, web links, sexual relations, disease transmission, or airline routes. The resulting structures are often very complex."

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Posted by Jay on Monday, July 7, 2008 at 3:00pm ETQuote iconSubmit a comment


To help prepare for National HIV Testing Day (June 27, 2008), is sponsoring a Webinar for Bloggers (sometimes called a 'blogginar') on Tuesday, June 17th at 2:00pm eastern time. Beginning with a similar webinar last year, has been communicating directly with bloggers so they can help encourage their readers to get tested. Since one in four Americans living with HIV is unaware of having it, this effort is a crucial piece of protecting and improving the health of people in the US. It also is an excellent example how Web 2.0 strategies can be used to impact health.

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Posted by Jay on Friday, June 13, 2008 at 10:00am ETQuote iconSubmit a comment


I've asked Melinda Frost, former lead for NCHM's Global Communication and Marketing team, to write a guest blog for this month's edition of Health Marketing Musings. Since early November, Melinda has served in a unique capacity for our Center. She works under the US Embassy in Beijing, China as the first US CDC health communications officer placed overseas. One of her roles is to determine how US CDC can best partner with China's Ministry of Health to increase their ability to deliver tailored, culturally appropriate health information to affected populations at national and sub-national levels. – Jay Bernhardt

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Posted by Melinda Frost, MA, MPH on Thursday, March 6, 2008 at 12:00pm ETQuote iconSubmit a comment


The most important platform in the world for collecting and delivering targeted and tailored health information during the first half of the 21st Century will be mobile phones. Mobile phones and integrated wireless devices will revolutionize the practice of public health and touch billions of lives around the world.

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Posted by Jay on Thursday, February 21, 2008 at 12:00pm ETQuote iconSubmit a comment


Health Literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions, as defined by the National Library of Medicine and as used in Healthy People 2010. According to the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL), more than 77 million adults in the US demonstrate basic or below basic health literacy skills.

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Posted by Jay on Monday, December 17, 2007 at 11:00am ETQuote iconSubmit a comment


World AIDS Day. Take the test. Take control. www.hivtest.orgOn December 1, 2007, the world will collectively observe World AIDS Day. Since 1988, World AIDS Day has provided an important opportunity for governments, organizations, communities, and individuals to generate greater public awareness of the devastating impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and to re-energize those fighting against it. Worldwide, HIV prevalence—the percentage of people living with HIV—has leveled off and the number of new infections dropped in 2007. However, AIDS remains among the leading causes of death around the world and continues to be the primary cause of death in Africa. In 2007, an estimated 2.1 million died of AIDS.

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Posted by Jay on Friday, November 30, 2007 at 3:00pm ETQuote iconSubmit a comment


On Saturday October 19, I attended part of the first CONNECT. Public Relations & Social Media Conference hosted by the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia. The agenda included renowned PR professionals (or "Rock Stars" as accurately described by Dr. Kaye Sweetser) who discussed cutting-edge social media techniques and how they can be used in PR and marketing. Many thanks to UGA for organizing and including me in this event. I invite you to browse the CONNECT blog, where you can find audio, blogs, links, twitter content, podcasts, photos and more from the conference.

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Posted by Jay on Monday, October 29, 2007 at 12:00pm ETQuote iconSubmit a comment


This is an exciting time to be working in health communication, marketing, and media. While each of these areas has roots in distinct disciplines, what brings us together is our shared belief that customers (however defined) matter most, information is powerful, and protecting and promoting people's health is a noble cause worth fighting for.

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Posted by Jay on Thursday, August 30, 2007 at 2:00pm ETQuote iconSubmit a comment


One of the mainstays of health marketing is to designate a day (or week or month) to a public health issue and use that day and the time leading up to it to raise awareness and promote health messages. Unfortunately, this strategy has become so commonplace that nearly every week has one, if not several, worthwhile observances associated with it, thereby reducing the likelihood of getting attention among the many competing stories appearing in the media. Nonetheless, some "days" are particularly important and well worth our attention and efforts.

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Posted by Jay on Wednesday, July 18, 2007 at 11:00am ETQuote iconSubmit a comment


Last week I attended a morning panel presentation at Emory University's Goizueta Business School featuring Richard Edelman, Chairman and CEO of Edelman. Richard discussed the 2007 Edition of the Edelman Trust Barometer, an annual survey of influentials from 18 countries and their perceptions of trust and credibility in different organizational sectors and information sources.

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Posted by Jay on Wednesday, April 25, 2007 at 5:00pm ETQuote iconSubmit a comment


When I came to CDC in August 2005, I brought with me one major goal: to improve the CDC website. I am proud to say that as of April 19, 2007, we have accomplished this goal with the launch of the new homepage and top-level navigation pages. Not that the old site was that bad compared to some others (who will remain nameless), but it certainly wasn't nearly as good as it could be. The design of the new site is based on science, best practices, and evidence-based research, like everything else we do at the CDC and the National Center for Health Marketing.

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Posted by: Jay on Thursday, April 19, 2007 at 9:00am ETQuote iconSubmit a comment


Before I share my topic for this blog, I have an admission to make. I am a lousy blogger. This blog entry is long overdue. I deeply believe in blogging and the incredible power of personal narrative, but am having a hard time keeping it fresh. I invite suggestions from veteran bloggers to let me know how they manage to do their day jobs and still keep their blog novel.

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Posted by: Jay at 5:00 PM on Monday, March 5, 2007Quote iconSubmit a comment


Congratulations and thanks are due to Dimitry Kruglyak from the Medical Blog Network (, who organized and recently hosted the first Healthcare Blogging Summit in Washington, DC as part of Consumer Health World. I was honored to speak at the Summit and share the dais with many accomplished innovators and leaders in the world of health-related blogging. A number of participants and attendees have written about the Summit and you can find their feedback here:

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Posted by: Jay at 12:00 PM on Thursday, December 28, 2006Quote iconSubmit a comment


It was great seeing old colleagues and meeting new innovators in Toronto recently at the 11th World Congress on Internet in Medicine (MedNet) ( I had the honor of delivering the keynote address at the conference (PDF Icon 12 pages/1.72 MB) and today's blog will offer a brief synopsis of my remarks.

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Posted by: Jay at 2:00 PM on Tuesday, November 14, 2006Quote iconSubmit a comment


For the last several weeks, CDC has been actively engaged leading the public health response to the E. coli outbreak associated with fresh spinach that has sickened more than 150 people and may have claimed three lives. When public health emergencies or outbreaks occur, the CDC activates the Director's Emergency Operation Center (DEOC) [here is a photo of the DEOC]. One of the core components of the DEOC is the Joint Information Center (JIC) led by the Emergency Communication System (ECS), which is an agency wide risk communication activity led by the National Center for Health Marketing (NCHM). [Note: CDC loves its acronyms!] The ECS is an amazing group of CDC professionals who spring into action when needed and work tirelessly, including nights and weekends, to help save and protect countless lives through health and risk communication targeted at professionals and the public. Watching the dedicated and professional response of the DEOC and the ECS in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita last year was truly inspiring.

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Posted by: Jay at 6:00 PM on Wednesday, October 11, 2006Quote iconSubmit a comment


It is my pleasure to welcome our first "guest blogger" to health marketing musings. The following remarks are from my colleague Dan Rutz, MPH, the Associate Director of Communication Science from the CDC National Center for Preparedness, Detection, and Control of Infectious Diseases (NCPDCID). He shares interesting and important observations about the frailty of our human experience and our communication science, and he calls for strengthening both. As always, reader comments are welcome and encouraged.

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Posted by: Dan Rutz at 2:10 PM on Friday, September 8, 2006Quote iconSubmit a comment


More than any other question, the one I am most frequently asked has to do with the name of our center at CDC, the National Center for Health Marketing (NCHM): "What is health marketing?" Other common questions include "What is the difference between health communication and health marketing?" "Is it the same thing as social marketing?" and "Why is CDC trying to change the name of our field?!?" In this, my second blog entry, I'll try to answer some of these questions and share my thoughts on the sensitive issue of disciplinary names and identities.

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Posted by: Jay at 3:45 PM on Tuesday, August 22, 2006Quote iconSubmit a comment


Legendary newsman Daniel Schorr once observed, "If you don't exist in the media, for all practical purposes, you don't exist." The same can be said today for the web—if you don't have an online presence, and if you don't show up in Google, for all practical purposes, you don't exist. Therefore, I'm happy to announce that the National Center for Health Marketing (NCHM) at the CDC finally exists!

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Posted by: Jay at 3:45 PM on Thursday, July 13, 2006Quote iconSubmit a comment




Dr. Jay M. Bernhardt is the Director of the National Center for Health Marketing at the CDC. The opinions expressed in this blog are those of its authors and may not represent the official positions of the Centers for Disease Control or the Department of Health and Human Services.

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