Staying Connected

CASE STUDY: Howard County Health Department's Youth Suicide Prevention Campaign

Posted on July 7, 2020 in Healthcare Marketing & Digital Advertising

The last few months of the school year are stressful times for teens. The angst associated with exams, proms, relationships, graduations, college admissions tests, part-time jobs, family obligations and day-to-day challenges that simmer below the surface often boil over. This year, teens were faced with even more upheaval as the COVID-19 pandemic put much of the world in lockdown mode. Schools shifted to a virtual learning environment, sporting events were cancelled, recreation and entertainment venues shuttered, and in-person social events and conversations with friends were halted.

This spring, the Howard County Health Department recognized that teens would be particularly vulnerable. The department’s teen suicide prevention outreach was very successful in 2019, and it was important to revive the campaign. Once again, the department turned to Herrmann.

The first challenge we faced was to create an effective campaign with a budget that was significantly lower than the previous year’s allocation. Recognizing that the target audience of teens and adult influencers would be at home and online, we determined our limited media spend would be best placed on programmatic digital and social media platforms. Fortunately, several different creatives were developed during the earlier campaign, providing a mix of visuals that appealed to a variety of ages and races. These creatives, rotated across the various platforms, emphasized the message that it was “OK to Ask” how others were doing and that “Talking Saves Lives.”

Because of the stay-at-home order, many of the prior geofencing tactics – surrounding schools, athletic fields, theatres, concert venues, stores, graduation ceremonies and other locales – were not implemented for the programmatic campaign. Instead, the delivery of impressions was targeted to Howard County residents at their homes. We anticipated there would be a significant increase in the amount of time people spent online connecting with others. That projection was accurate.

Even with 28% fewer programmatic impressions delivered in 2020 than in the prior year, the overall click-through rate was significantly higher: .30% versus the previous year’s .19% CTR. The total number of visits to Howard County Health Department’s “Teen Matters” website also rose by nearly 9%. While ads placed on Facebook and Instagram this year could not match the reach or number of impressions of last year’s campaign, they achieved a .04% higher CTR while reducing the cost-per-click by 38%. The results reinforced that the 2020 outreach was extremely effective and provided a much-needed resource for help in this era of uncertainty.

We invite you to click here to view this campaign and our other work for the Howard County Health Department.

Do you need help establishing your message and increasing engagement? If so, contact Herrmann’s Chief Business Development Officer John Albert at to see how Herrmann can help you make an impact today!