Reaching Communities Through Diverse Media

Many community members turn to local, trusted sources to get information about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines. For refugee, immigrant, and migrant (RIM) communities, local media outlets that are linguistically and culturally concordant are essential conduits for the most up-to-date COVID-19 information and guidance.

Partnering with Diverse Media

Many RIM communities receive news and information from cultural media outlets. These outlets include radio and television broadcasts in languages spoken by communities and feature community leaders.  By partnering with media outlets that are trusted in the community, vaccine messages can be culturally tailored and address unique concerns. These opportunities are a venue to address common questions, counter misinformation, build trust, and allow people to reflect on the positive impact that vaccination can have on their communities.

Reaching RIM Communities in California

San Ysidro Health, a Federally Qualified Health Center in San Diego County (CA), has successfully partnered with community-specific media during its campaign to educate local RIM communities about COVID-19 and build vaccine confidence. In January 2022, they offered a hybrid in-person/virtual town hall that was livestreamed by Chaldean Radio and Television, a local media organization that offers Aramaic and Arabic language programming and broadcasts on Facebook. During the town hall, a San Ysidro Health provider fielded questions, through interpreters, in English, Arabic, Aramaic, and Dari. Questions came from in-person attendees as well as viewers at home. The event was watched by 4500 people on Chaldean Radio and Television’s Facebook Live channel. After the success of the first town hall, San Ysidro Health offered three more hybrid in-person/virtual town halls, adding Pashto and Spanish interpreters. Each of these events was again streamed live by Chaldean Radio and Television, drawing as many as 3900 viewers at a time.

Reaching Community Members in Minnesota

In 2017, Twin Cities PBS launched TPT NOW, a 24/7, multi-lingual, emergency preparedness and response communication system broadcast in up to eight different languages that reaches hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans across the state. TPT NOW is a trusted source designed to fill vital communication gaps between public health/safety leaders and cultural communities to provide health and safety information using a “Hub and Spoke” distribution system. Content is developed in partnership with the local and state government before being distributed through cultural and community media partners. TPT NOW aims to promote equity in media by addressing the barriers that exist for cultural communities such as the lack of trust between some cultural communities and the government, misinformation/disinformation in social media, and the persistence of English-only messaging in the media. Since its inception, TPT NOW has proven to be an effective platform in delivering pertinent, real time information that is culturally and linguistically appropriate for refugee, immigrant, and migrant communities across the Twin Cities and state of Minnesota.

In preparation for COVID-19 vaccine roll out, TPT NOW partnered with community and cultural media partners and the Minnesota Department of Health, to produce five, short, 30-minute broadcasts on culturally specific radio, television stations, web and social media sites called “COVID-19 Vaccines and your Community: What You Need to Know.” For example, information about the broadcast was advertised on Nextdoor, an app utilized by TPT NOW to provide safety and emergency content to almost 4,000 neighborhoods across the Twin Cities and surrounding areas, which garnered nearly 400,000 impressions on the app alone. These broadcast programs were an opportunity for community members to tune into a well-established source and hear essential COVID-19 vaccine information from trusted community leaders. Broadcasts were tailored to each unique community with speakers that represent the audience. Speakers were physicians, community organization leaders, religious leaders, or well-connected elders. The broadcasts were 30 minutes long and covered culturally specific “top questions / answers” about COVID-19 vaccines that were aired on culturally-relevant radio and TV stations and streamed on each station's respective social media pages along with additional COVID-19 vaccine resources. All programming was funded by Blue Cross Blue Shield of MN. Recordings are available on the TPT YouTube page under the “COVID-19 Vaccine BIPOC Broadcasts” playlist.

Cumulatively across all cultures, the broadcast had nearly 300,000 impressions across the African American, Hmong, Indigenous, Latinx, and Somali communities. Culturally-relevant TV channels that aired the broadcast include: Hmong TV which had 4,600 views, Univision TV which featured the broadcast on its Cafe Libre segment that typically reaches an estimated 50,000-60,000 Latinx viewers across 80% of Minnesota, and Somali TV which garnered 2,000 views. Culturally-relevant radio stations that featured the broadcast include: KMOJ radio that reaches 87% of African American and Latinx homes in the Twin Cities at nearly 88,000 listeners every 15 minutes, and Ampers Radio which partners with Indigenous radio stations in Greater Minnesota and reaches approximately 1,000 listeners every 15 minutes. TPT NOW is editing each 30-minute program to yield about 3-4 clips (15-20 total across all communities),  in each native language focusing on COVID-19 vaccine content. TPT NOW also continues to produce additional PSAs to promote specific messaging supported by content partners and cultural leaders for extended use on social media. Over the summer, TPT NOW will convene key leaders from BIPOC communities participating in COVID-19 programming for the purpose of engaging and developing content relevant to cultural communities to be produced and distributed this fall.

For more information contact Lillian McDonald at