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Mass communications department contracted for Medicare campaign

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Researchers in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication have been recognized with a $630,000 award and new contract from Texas Health and Human Services to craft a campaign for Medicare enrollment.

The campaign includes radio and television announcements, web and social media messages and will be available in English and Spanish.

Parts of the contract such as testing messages, writing scripts and receiving approval, creating video, securing proper accommodations, discussions on what images to use, and writing reports have been underway since the approval of the contract. The goal is to have the campaign ready for air at specific spots in Texas by Oct. 15, when Medicare enrollment begins.

The team consists of three independent contractors and 11 research faculty members from within the school. Two members will lead the project. Kelly Kaufhold, assistant professor of communication, and Judy Oskam, director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication as the co-leader.

This campaign was worked on for three months, and included research collected from 16 visits throughout Texas where state employees and benefit councilors registered individuals over the age of 65 for Medicare.

During this preliminary process of the campaign faculty members Jessica James and Dan Seed, both lecturers in the school of journalism and mass communications, helped gather the information from Medicare recipients.

“It was a gratifying experience to be able to talk to these people much like we did when we were reporters,” James said.  “Just being connected to the pulse of real society where individuals are in a life or death situation. It is really about the message of how they need that to be presented.”

The research was gathered with the aim to assist poor and rural Texans enrolling for Medicare.

“We were doing some work in the weeks before approval thinking we want to do research in this area anyway, so if it’s never approved that’s okay,” Kaufhold said. “We were doing work that would benefit us as researchers knowing that if we got the contract, we could apply it to the contract.”

Kaufhold anticipates a turnout not only for Texas Health and Human Services but also for the research faculty in the school of journalism and mass communication and more notably for Texas State as it heads toward becoming a tier one research institution.

“The most important thing to me is to be part of a project that’s really meaningful research,” Kaufhold said. “We can help Texans, especially poor rural Texans get better access to healthcare through our work, that really means a lot to us and that’s important.”