COMHLTH 573
Communicating Health in a Digital Landscape

Course Instructor:

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Text and Resources:

  • Dodson, I. (2016). The Art of digital marketing: The definitive guide to creating strategic, targeted, and measurable online campaigns. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons, Inc. ISBN: 9781119265702.
  • Affinito, L., and Mack, J. (2016). Socialize your patient engagement strategy: How social media and mobile apps can boost health outcomes. New York, NY: Routledge. ISBN: 9781472456328.
  • Additional required readings provided as links within the learning management system as part of the course schedule.

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Course Overview

This course covers how to develop and implement health-related content through a variety of digital platforms. Students will launch a coherent and justifiable digital strategy for health communication by using writing, critical thinking and persuasion skills. Students will explore various trends in health communication and emerging social media to study their ethical application in both advertising and public relations.


Course Goals

COMHLTH 573: Communicating Health in a Digital Landscape will model the curriculum of the existing course COMSTRAT 563: Digital Content Promotion for Professional Communicators with minor modifications to integrated health communication and promotion topics, readings, case studies, assignments and discussion forums. 

Student Learning Outcomes for this course:

At the end of this course, students should be able to:

Course Topics

The following topics will address this outcome:

Evaluation of Outcomes:

This outcome will be evaluated primarily by:

Develop and manage health-related online content promotions, and a branded digital campaign. Specifics: brand identity, stakeholder and user goals, audience/persona research, campaign objectives, project execution management
  • Overview of health communication techniques
  • Social media marketing campaign and SWOT ? strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats
  • Message design
  • Discussion posts that synthesize information students have been learning, apply information to different settings or populations, describe relevant examples of course information, and/or engage with various resources and respond.
  • Semester-long project planning
  • Audience persona
  • Core message design
  • SWOT analysis and situation analysis
  • GOST plan
Ability to develop and execute social media engagement and user oriented content strategies in health communication. Specifics: common components of a plan, competitive positioning, and value-proposition and engagement-based messaging principles.
  • Website design principles
  • Target audience and audience personas
  • Communication tactics in public health and awarenessHealth communication campaigns overview
  • Infographics and role they play in health communicationSocial media engagement
  • Social media campaign design
  • Discussion posts that synthesize information students have been learning, apply information to different settings or populations, describe relevant examples of course information, and/or engage with various resources and respond.
  • Early drafts of social media marketing plan
  • Development of initial campaign website
  • Research essay proposal and planning
Evaluate campaign success in execution using key performance indicators and digital tools for web development, email, metrics, and multimedia management. Specifics: web page layout design and presentation, analytics, social listening.
  • Overview of digital communications
  • Digital campaign execution and metrics
  • Campaign messaging crafting and evaluating
  • Discussion posts that synthesize information students have been learning, apply information to different settings or populations, describe relevant examples of course information, and/or engage with various resources and respond.
  • Final social media marketing plan
  • Final campaign website
  • Final research essay



Course Work

The course will be taught to address digital health content and social media campaigns from both a public relations and advertising perspective. 

Students will be aligned with a health topic (i.e. diabetes, opioid abuse, PTSD, nutrition, etc.) for the duration of the semester. Students will be expected to conceptualize and create specified elements of a promotional campaign, specifically the processes for selecting, using, managing, and evaluating the effectiveness of web, social media, and mobile technologies.

Students will learn to optimize and promote their campaigns and content for distribution and discovery on search engines, social networks, mobile devices and other non-traditional outlets. Best practices will be explored for press release writing, tagging, metadata creation, social network seeding, community engagement and more.

Although subject to change, the following tools, services, and techniques may be used:

  • Google Ads (online service offering brief product/service promotions via networks)
  • Search Engine Optimization and Marketing (SEO/SEM)
  • Social Media Marketing (SMM)
  • Social media networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
  • WordPress.com (a web-based site design and hosting service)
  • Hootsuite/Sprout Social (social media management platform)
  • Google Documents/Drive (an online collaborative word processor and cloud-based storage service)
  • Google Analytics (targeted website and keyword measurement and analytics service)
  • YouTube Analytics (viral video measurement and analytics service)
  • Survey Monkey/Constant Contact (free online survey tool)
  • Canva (free graphic design website)
  • Yext (reputation management platform)
  • Binary Fountain (online review management company)
Instructional Methods

Work completed in COMHLTH 573 is independent and non-collaborative. Students are expected to work independently on each task and assignment. The course is a combination of lecture review, readings, discussion forum contribution and graded assignments. Evaluation of your work will be completed by your instructor using established rubrics for each assignment. 

Expectations for Student Effort

For each hour of lecture equivalent, students should expect to have a minimum of two hours of work outside of class. Therefore, students should expect to devote 6 hours or more per week on course readings, lecture reviews, discussion posts and assignments.

Weekly Course Outline

Evaluation of your work will be based on quality and timeliness of the social media, written and/or multimedia content created for the class. This includes technical quality, but also the application of key concepts and critical thinking to the productions. For this course, eight of the 11 discussion posts will be graded as part of participation. Progress grades will be provided in the development of your campaign website, research essay, and social media marketing plan. In support of all materials, additional supplemental reading is noted on the course schedule.

Final Exam

There is no final exam in COMHLTH 573. The final versions of your social media marketing plan, research essay and campaign website serve as the final for the course.


Instructor Interaction

As you are expected to participate in this course daily, I also will be active in the course space on a daily basis. 


Late Work Policy

Late work is not accepted in this class. Some consideration, however, might be given (at the discretion of the instructor) if there are extenuating circumstances such as prolonged hospitalization, family death, or extended individual sickness previously discussed. This course requires students to maintain strong organizational skills. It is the student?s responsibility to complete all assignments by the due date.


Grading

I have high expectations for your performance and success in this class. Spelling, grammar, and punctuation count on all assignments. Any of these errors are problematic and cast serious doubt on the accuracy of the facts in your project. Multiple errors of this type will lower your grade. I expect students to read and engage with all course materials, and participate actively in class discussions via the online discussion board.

 Assignment  Points  Percent of Overall Grade
Discussions (6 @ 7 points, 2 @ 9 points) 60 25%
Social Media Marketing Plan (Draft 1, Draft 2, Final @ 20 points each) 60 25%
Research Essay (Draft 1, Draft 2, Final @ 20 points each) 60 25%
Campaign Website (Draft 1, Draft 2, Final @ 20 points each) 60 25%
Total 240 100%


Grade Percent Grade Percent
A 93-100% C 73-76%
A- 90-92% C- 70-72%
B+ 87-89% D+ 67-69%
B 83-86% D 60-66%
B- 80-82% F 0-59%
C+ 77-79%    

If a grade falls into a non-specified range (e.g. 89.5% or 89.2%), the grade will be rounded to the closest whole number. Therefore, if a grade was 89.5%, the student would receive an A-; if the grade as 89.2% the student would receive a B+.


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