Power of Public Health: Social-Media Campaign Salutes Employee Impact

Toni Perling, Senior Communications Officer, Response Crisis Preparedness Unit, CDC Foundation, Atlanta, GA


With support from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the private sector starting in the Spring of 2020, the CDC Foundation activated an emergency response to the pandemic, which included recruiting and hiring more than 4,000 surge staff to assist understaffed public health departments nationwide. Initially dubbed “the COVID-19 Corps,” the program continued under the moniker “Workforce/Vaccine Initiative.”

A special ‘salute’ series spotlighting the impact of these field employees was developed for social media, becoming an important source of pride for the CDC Foundation and the surge staff team and garnering superior engagement numbers.

Program background:

Along with placing field employees with jurisdictions, the CDC Foundation recruited two communications officers to coordinate internal and external messaging and to share the impact of this new program with funders, potential stakeholders, the public health community and the general public.

A social-media series, featuring a branded graphic with a photo of a featured employee and a short post describing their work, was quickly developed to begin showcasing the positive effect these field employees were having on their assigned jurisdictions and communities. These salutes also served to connect these employees, all of whom worked outside the CDC Foundation, and many remotely from their assigned health departments.

What began as COVID-19 Corps Salutes were re-branded as The Power of Public Health, to focus on the connection between the CDC Foundation, its field employees and various health departments.

They were posted to the CDC Foundation’s social accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Eight posts in total were produced over the course of a year.

This series also aided in the workforce development aspect of the initiative by spotlighting the wide range of public health activity related to COVID-19, along with the diversity of the staff itself by geographic location, ethnicity, age and other factors.

Evaluation Methods and Results:

The Foundation’s digital team gathered metrics. Tracked data includes impressions, average reach, engagements, reactions, comments, shares, link clicks and more. The results were better than expected.

During the reporting period of November 2021-December 2022, the Power of Public Health posts were seen 38,899 times and boasted an average engagement rate of 6.1%, significantly higher than the average 1-2% rate for comparable posts. The engagement rate on Facebook measured 8.2%. According to industry leader Sprout Social, the median engagement rate on Facebook is 0.064%.

The campaign’s success is also bolstered by the fact that the traffic was organic and no paid ads were utilized.


Focusing on the personal impact of public-health workers was a successful tool for increasing social media engagement and messaging reach, as well as bolstering team pride and sharing success to partners and external audiences.

Implications for research and/or practice:

A social-media salute series featuring personal perspectives and impact stories of staff is a low-cost method of promoting the activities and successes of a public health organization, while engaging and acknowledging its employees.