Promoting Public Health Through an Innovative Mass Media Initiative

State: GA Type: Promising Practice Year: 2019

Cobb & Douglas Public Health (CDPH), located in the northeast suburbs of Metro Atlanta, provides public health services to nearly 900,000 within its dual-county district. Both of these suburban counties are within 20 miles of the state's capitol in Atlanta, Georgia.  Cobb County spans 340 square miles and includes the municipalities of Acworth, Austell, Kennesaw, Marietta, Powder Springs, and Smyrna. 

Over the years, our population has steadily increased, as a result of the relocation of the Braves Stadium to Cobb County, and several other factors. In order to remain responsive to the changing and emerging health needs of our residents, CDPH has developed innovative approaches to health promotion and education in our community. This submission focuses on one aspect of a robust communications strategy developed in partnership with CobbTV23, Cobb County's government access channel.

Goal: To implement health promotion and education programming in partnership with CobbTV23 which fosters an increased understanding of the role of public health.

Objective: To produce three, 30-minute, Spotlight on Public Health broadcast segments per year in partnership with CobbTV23, Cobb County's government access channel to highlight the work of Cobb & Douglas Public Health.

According to the old adage, public health is working when it is invisible”; yet, as highlighted in this practice submission, CDPH continues to demonstrate how public health is working in a very visible way. This practice submission highlight's CDPH's Spotlight on Public Health program which broadcasts health promotion and educational materials on a variety of topics in partnership with Cobb County government's public broadcasting channel.

Since early 2016, CDPH has implemented Spotlight on Public Health, which is featured on the Cobb County government's daily television lineup. Beyond public television, the broadcasts are disseminated through social media platforms, including the Cobb County YouTube channel and through the County's On Demand" feature. CDPH also makes it available on the agency website,, and on the CDPH Vimeo channel,

Three-times per year, CDPH's Communication's Office selects a public health topic or program relevant to monthly health observances, recent health issues/topics facing residents, or ideas suggested from stakeholders (general public, Board of Health members, and/or staff). A script is developed with input from key subject matter experts to produce 30-minute segments which are filmed by CobbTV23.  The show typically includes interviews with subject matter experts including the health department director.

Since early 2016, CDPH has produced eight episodes on a wide-range of health topics:

  • Episode 1, April 2016- In this episode, the Children 1st Program Manager talks to us about the importance of the Safe Sleep issue and the WIC Program Manager gives us an overview of the program.

  • Episode 2, June 2016- In this episode, the Director of Epidemiology & Health Assessment talks to us about the Zika Virus and the Director of Environmental Health, along with an Environmental Health Manager for Cobb County, discuss ways to control mosquitoes around your home.

  • Episode 3, October 2016- The Immunizations Director for the district discusses immunizations, public health back to school events, and travel vaccinations that are available at CDPH.

  • Episode 4, February 2017- The Children and Youth with Special Needs Director and a nurse provide information on Baby's Can't Wait Program, an early intervention program for children ages birth to 3 years old who may be at risk for developmental disabilities. The episode also includes a testimonial from one local family.

  • Episode 5, June 2017- CDPH's Safe Kids Program Director shares pool, bicycle and pedestrian safety tips, as well as hot car safety information. Later in the show, a Planning & Policy Development Manager with CDPH provides sun safety and summer exercise tips.

  • Episode 6, December 2017- The Emergency Preparedness & Response Training & Exercise Coordinator highlights winter and severe weather preparedness tips, including what to include in an emergency supply kit for families and pets. During the second half of the show, an Environmental Health County Manager provides food safety tips before during and after potential power outages.

  • Episode 7, May 2018- The WIC Breastfeeding Coordinator and the WIC Breastfeeding Customer Services Specialist provide information on WIC program enrollment and highlight the breastfeeding services offered.
  • Episode 8, September 2018- In this episode the new District Health Director is introduced and highlights the role of public health and leadership. A Public Health Educator also discusses asthma awareness and management during the second half of the show.

The program continues to highlight the important role of public health and provides health educational information for viewers throughout the community. In order to measure the effectiveness of the program and its reach, CDPH has developed a series of evaluation criteria (metrics) which also correspond to CDPH's strategic plan (see evaluation and sustainability sections).

The Spotlight on Public Health TV program is responsive to the community by selecting topics for community residents to learn about public health and some of the programs associated with CDPH. Over the years, public health has typically been promoted through news releases/articles, and free advertising, as our primary methods for health education, however, Spotlight on Public Health presents a fun, creative and innovative way to feature the work of public health and it is written and produced by public health staff.

While use of social media and websites are growing in popularity among health departments in recent years, Spotlight on Public Health presents a new and innovative method to communicate with the public. Rarely is public health on television, let alone featuring a 30-minute educational (non-marketing/advertising) program highlighting programs and services of local health departments.

The Spotlight on Public Health program is cutting-edge because it features topics aligned with state and national health goals (primarily Healthy People 2020) as outlined in CDPH's Community Health Assessment and Improvement Plan. CDPH, accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) in 2015, continues to work towards improving population health outcomes as part of reaccreditation efforts.

Predominantly, the broadcast segments feature public health topics specific to seasonal and everyday local community topics; for example, immunizations/flu vaccines, travel health services, WIC/breastfeeding, tobacco-use & prevention, environmental health, summer safety, winter weather preparedness and more. CDPH's Communications Office creates the Q&As for each program and worked closely with the program managers to finalize the scripts to ensure the material is relevant, accurate, and actionable to improving health in the community.

Goal: To implement health promotion and education programming in partnership with CobbTV23 which fosters an increased understanding of the role of public health.

Objective: To produce three, 30-minute, Public Health television programs  per year called Spotlight on Public Health. These shows air in partnership with CobbTV23, Cobb County's government access channel, to and highlight the work of Cobb & Douglas Public Health.

The Spotlight on Public Health television program was created by CDPH's Office of Communications and District Health Director through a series of meetings held initially in 2015 with CobbTV23. Over the course of the next year, the partnership was launched to include negotiated use of the county studio, expertise of the county station manager, film and editing crew staff, and broadcasting. The partnership proved to be mutually beneficial in that while CDPH was looking for outlets to reach the local community, CobbTV23 was looking for material to populate its programming line-up.  

The show is featured on Cobb County Government's TV23 daily schedule, as well as on the government ‘On Demand' channel, and on the government YouTube channel.  Spotlight on Public Health also airs on the CDPH website and the CDPH Vimeo channel.

Stakeholders include:

  • CDPH
  • Georgia Department of Health
  • Cobb County Government
  • Board of Health Members
  • Other Community Partners (school systems, etc.)

Community partners such as the Cobb County School District and Marietta City School District support the video project by viewing it, by sending links to their supporters and followers, and by offering topic advice to the CDPH Communications Office. CDPH has a very strong working relationship with its community partners.

There is no cost involved in the development and production of each show, thanks to the partnership with Cobb County Government. The county covers all costs associated with Spotlight on Public Health.

CDPH selected several evaluation measures to determine the effectiveness of the practice over time. Over the years, the practice has demonstrated success beyond audience reach and production statistics, for example:

  • Relevance of topics to our community: Topics are hand-selected by CDPH's Communications Office and based on local health issues facing residents (such as, increased disease/health condition statistical trends, monthly health observances, and other health promotion/educational information) (see overview for list of topics by episode). The topics chosen have impacted the community in several ways. One example of this includes community partner Marietta City Schools. The superintendent requested that a link be sent to the communication director of the school system for the Summer Safety episode. The link was then emailed out to all school system recipients including parents and students.

  • Sustainability: Cobb County Government was more than willing to assist in facilitating the project and covers the filming, production and editing costs associated with each show. It is estimated that the in-kind contribution of CobbTV23 to film and broadcast each episode is valued at $2,500-3,500 per episode. Through this collaboration, CDPH is able to provide public health programming for free which lends the practice to sustainability.

    This practice is also applicable to other local health departments which may be able to partner with local television outlets.

  • Broad Reach: The CDPH Communications Office Director is very media savvy and is featured as the host in each show. Viewers and stakeholders in the community enjoy watching the program and continue to support it. For example, on CDPH's Vimeo channel we have had a very successful viewership:

Vimeo Views Per Episode
Episode #181              
Episode #2157
Episode #361
Episode #4130
Episode #5400
Episode #6378
Episode #7269
Episode #8122

  • Staff Morale: Anecdotal evidence based on interactions with staff note that those featured on air feel a sense of pride and reward from sharing information about the work they do within the community. CDPH values the intrinsic rewards staff feel from serving others.

The program can be seen on Cobb County Government TV23, on the Cobb Government YouTube channel and on the county's On Demand feature. The programs can also be found at

The Spotlight on Public Health television program has been going strong since early 2016. The Spotlight on Public Health program has proven to be a success and it continues to expand! 

The number of shows produced has remained consistent at three per year, but the plan is to increase to four per year and to allow other CDPH staff to host the show. It is estimated that the in-kind costs associated with developing, filming, editing, and broadcasting would cost between $20,000-$28,000 for all eight episodes. Because the practice is developed and implemented in partnership with CobbTV23, the broadcasts are free and offer a wider audience since shows are not only on television, but disseminated through Cobb County's social media outlets.

There are many public health programs and services, issues and emerging topics to feature on the show. Sustainability for this program is very strong, as long as the partnership between Cobb County and CDPH remains solid.

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