UC Berkeley holds campaign to outline COVID-19 preventative measures

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The #BearsCare campaign aims to appeal to the motivations to follow behavioral expectations concerning COVID-19, such as wearing masks and social distancing.

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In light of COVID-19, the UC Berkeley Office of Communications and Public Affairs has started a campaign to outline behavioral expectations during the pandemic.

Diana Harvey, associate vice chancellor for communications and public affairs, and Ram Kapoor, chief marketing officer, are heading the campaign. Some of the behavioral expectations, or social norms, include wearing face coverings, keeping at least six feet of distance between individuals, washing hands frequently and regularly getting tested for COVID-19.

The campaign aims to appeal to the motivations to follow these behavioral expectations, which Harvey says is about caring for those around us.

“Ultimately, the goal is to reduce the incidence and spread of COVID-19 among our campus community members,” Harvey said in an email.

Harvey said they were asked by Chancellor Carol Christ, other campus leadership and the assistant vice chancellor and director of University Health Services, Guy Nicolette, to create the campaign, which began around the time that students and faculty began returning to campus.

To create the campaign, their team gathered a group of students, faculty and staff who are knowledgeable in communications and marketing. They conducted focus groups to determine subjects including levels of adherence to COVID-19 prevention behaviors, what motivated that adherence, preferred sources of information and general awareness on COVID-19 prevention.

“Given our largely virtual environment in which we find ourselves, the campaign is running largely on social media platforms,” Harvey said in the email. “But we also have posters and banners in outdoor campus locations and in residence halls and Zoom backgrounds.”

In addition, their team consulted with others who have done similar work including leaders from the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, as there are some similarities between the early stages of the AIDS pandemic in San Francisco and the COVID-19 pandemic today.

The culmination of this research was the #BearsCare campaign.

While the campaign is spearheaded by the Office of Communication and Public Affairs, student leaders and student groups are also involved in the campaign.

Catherine Cronquist Browning, the assistant dean of academic programs and of equity and inclusion at the School of Information, also voiced her support for the campaign.

“I’m hugely in favor of the campus’s campaign to normalize COVID-19 preventative behaviors,” Browning said in an email. “I’m excited to see the campus continuing to use social norms theory to create positive behavioral change in our campus community.”

Browning added that other social norms campaigns have been successful on college campuses, and the PATH to Care Center has also used this approach.

Moving forward, the #BearsCare campaign will be able to adjust to any new behavioral expectations or preventative measures as circumstances change.

“We hope the campaign lives up to its goal which is to engage in behaviors designed to prevent the spread COVID-19 so that we can all return to doing the things we love,” Harvey said in the email.

Contact Mela Seyoum at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @melaseyoum.