About the Campaign
The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) and Department of Human Services (DHS) have commissioned MEE Productions Inc. (MEE) to develop and execute the United Against COVID campaign, a community engagement initiative focused on supporting ethnic and minority communities in Allegheny County that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
The main repository of science-based educational information is a user-friendly, easy-to-navigate campaign YouTube channel, Truth Not COVID. It features a series of videos shot with trusted local Black and Brown doctors and other experts, sharing the factual/scientific information for safely navigating the pandemic. It also includes more than a dozen videos with community voices and stories of resilience.
MEE collaborated with respected Pittsburgh community leader, Reverend Dr. John Welch, who has a PhD in healthcare ethics and for the past 15 years has been organizing faith communities. Dr. Welch convened an inclusive Community Advisory Board (CAB) whose members have partnered with MEE in this much needed culturally-relevant outreach effort.
MEE and Rev. Welch also hosted a series of virtual listening and information sessions to bring key community leaders and stakeholders to the table. Grassroots leaders are the real “experts” on what kind of COVID-19 information their community needs and what barriers residents have faced in getting services and staying safe.
A Campaign for Ethnic and Minority Populations
The United Against COVID campaign melds the latest digital technology with the community’s “human-ology” to increase awareness and create positive word-of-mouth. The community engagement process builds upon and leverages existing relationships with trusted community partners, nonprofits, faith leaders, barbershops, beauty salons, and other “out-front” organizations, including federally-qualified health centers (FQHCs). Hundreds of trusted, community-identified leaders at the ground level, starting with the CAB, serve as message senders about COVID-19 safety measures, the need for testing, and the availability and benefits of the vaccine.
These community-identified leaders are bridges to overcome the deep-seated barrier of community mistrust and misinformation about COVID safety practices, testing and the availability of vaccines. We know that the family, friends and neighbors of these leaders trust them, even when they are skeptical and suspicious of government, institutions and the healthcare industry.
These recruited leaders receive training and technical assistance from MEE on how to push out effective messaging within their social/personal/professional networks, using a customized Digital Community Engagement Toolkit. The Toolkit allows each leader to customize COVID-19 messages to meet the specific needs and interests of their community. The goal is to put the information and tools in the hands of trusted leaders, so they can hold the kind of open and honest dialogue that will help people make informed decisions for themselves and their families.
An Inclusive Approach to Campaign Development
The United Against COVID campaign messages reflect the worldview of underserved minority residents of Allegheny County because they are based on their lived experiences and day-to-day realities. The campaign messages are doable and shareable in the context of economically-challenged and stressed-out lives.
Messages to Move Communities Beyond Pandemic Survival Mode
What makes this campaign unique is that it also includes messages about how residents in low-resourced communities can sustain and protect themselves for the longer-haul by engaging in daily wellness practices and tapping into their resilience to manage stress/anxiety.
About MEE Productions
MEE Productions Inc. (www.meeproductions.com) is a leading expert in behavioral health communications and has three decades of first-hand experience working on health disparities affecting underserved and under-resourced communities across America. MEE develops and implements population health interventions that “move the numbers” in communities with the highest health disparities in the U.S. – low-income, urban, Black, and Latinx communities. MEE has designed and implemented successful, large-scale community engagement campaigns at both the city/county and statewide levels. MEE’s unique community-engagement framework and methodologies were used to develop the United Against COVID campaign.