March 28, 2022
The United Against Tobacco and Covid Project aims to develop and disseminate country-tailored and culturally appropriate media risk messaging for tobacco use cessation. It strives to educate and change tobacco related behavior to reduce COVID morbidity and mortality in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
Through media coverage, this project is set to raise awareness of the harms of smoking, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, decrease smoking uptake, and increase the intention to quit among smokers. The Project is funded by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and implemented by Global Health Development Eastern Mediterranean Public Health Network (GHD|EMPHNET) with Vital Strategies’ technical assistance.
As part of this initiative, an educational webinar series was organized to increase the capacities of countries with regards to design, strategy, message development, and dissemination of knowledge for effective media campaigns. The series also served to strengthen campaign monitoring and evaluation capacities, as well as share best practices and cases studies to demonstrate key strategic communication principles.
On March 15, 2022, the webinar series kicked off with welcoming messages from Vice President, Vital Strategies, Stephen Hamill; CDC Representative, Dr. Indu Alhuwailia; and Director of Center of Excellence for Applied Epidemiology, GHD|EMPHNET, Dr. Yousef Khader.
From her end, Research Specialist, GHD|EMPHNET, Dr. Randa Saad introduced the United Against Tobacco and COVID Project, while Vice President, Vital Strategies, Rebecca Perl discussed the webinar series’ objectives and speakers. The webinar series featured four interactive sessions hosted by international experts.
The first webinar session was also held on March 15, where Technical Advisor, Vital Strategies, Tom Carroll, and Editorial Director, Vital Strategies, Karen Schmidt gave a presentation titled “Developing a Strategic Communication Campaign for Tobacco Control.” The session focused on strategic communication campaigns for tobacco control and the know-how needed to establish a campaign goal, and best practices in selecting a target audience. It also focused on determining behavioral objectives, understanding target audiences, defining communication objectives, identifying key messages, campaign production, and future adaptations of campaign material.
The second webinar session titled “Media Channels and Strategy” took place on March 17. Presenters were Lead Tobacco Control, Europe-Vital Strategies, Irina Morozova; Regional Technical Advisor, Vital Strategies, Omar Jacob; and Associate Director, Southeast Asia- Vital Strategies, Enrico Aditjondro. The session focused on using media channels for effective campaigns, the considerations of the strengths and limitations of different media channels, and how to choose an effective media channel mix. Furthermore, the pros and cons of paid media channels, sustainable mechanisms for mass media campaign broadcast, and the messaging needed to get earned media were also discussed.
The third webinar session was held on March 22, and it focused on Case Study Examples. The session was hosted by Consultant, Vital Strategies, Tuba Durgut, and Vice President, Vital Strategies, Rebecca Perl. Several campaigns were presented in this session such as Hookah and Quit Smoking campaigns, tobacco, and Covid PSA campaigns. Discussions also highlighted sustainable mechanisms for campaigns and policy campaigns.
The fourth and final webinar titled “Message Testing, Monitoring and Evaluation” was held on March 24. The session was hosted by Vice President, Vital Strategies, Nandita Murukutla; Associate Director of Research, Vital strategies, Ashish Kumar Gupta; Research Associate, Vital Strategies, Namarata Kumar; and Research Manager, Vital Strategies, Melina Magsumbol. It focused on how to conduct an effective message testing study, as well as campaign monitoring and evaluation. Discussions also touched on formative research, concept and message testing research, and campaign monitoring, campaign evaluation, as well as campaign reporting and dissemination.
All sessions were followed by a Q&A discussion in which participants had the opportunity to interact with the presenters. Participants in this webinar series included representatives of project partners, public institutions in project countries, project focal points, and grantees.