In a crisis, every word counts. Abt stands with clients to help them communicate with target audiences when their messages are needed most. We reach target audiences with the information they need to counter harmful behaviors and provide action-oriented steps they can take to protect themselves, their families and communities.

By combining technical, communications and behavior-change expertise while applying the principles of behavioral-economics, Abt campaigns successfully encourage audiences to adopt recommended actions. Our approach changes complex behaviors and brings a sense of order to otherwise chaotic situations.


Abt promotes behavior change by crafting messages that resonate with audiences, working with partners to expand campaign messages using evidence-based practices. Due to the rapid start-up emergencies and disasters often necessitate, we continue to test and refine messages in real time and throughout the life of the campaign to ensure desired behavior change. We add targeted earned media, digital/social media, paid media, materials development, and IT support for a web and mobile presence, since that’s most often the only way to reach individuals with pertinent information during a disaster. Our team’s expertise, experience and bold thinking leads to lives saved in the midst of a crisis.

Relevant Experience

Zika Readiness Digital Outreach Campaign

Client:  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Zika—unpredictable and opportunistic—is a major health threat requiring rapid and effective cross-disciplinary action. Under a Public Health Emergency of International Concern declared by the World Health Organization, Abt worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to create and launch a campaign delivering research-based, behavior-change messaging that reduced the negative impacts of Zika. We used crisis and emergency risk communication principles—and the health belief, stages of change and precaution adoption process models—to manage risk, combat misperceptions and encourage protective health behaviors. To address the fluid nature of the epidemic, our team designed a plan that allowed for a flexible response to new medical findings, changing needs and the ongoing risk of complacency. The plan allowed us to respond quickly while conducting comprehensive research, planning, testing and implementation phases. We evaluated materials and executed real-time changes; conducted behavioral-intent studies to gauge action; regularly assessed public engagement (which can decline because of message, risk and compassion fatigue); and used social media as the primary communication platform, which was critical to the campaign’s success by allowing for granular targeting, quick pivots and real-time metrics.

Pandemic Influenza Mitigation in the U.S.

Client:  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The CDC Community Interventions for Infection Control Unit updated the 2007 Interim Pre-pandemic Planning Guidance for state, tribal, local and territorial public health officials with a focus on introducing community mitigation measures during an influenza pandemic. To this end, additional influenza community-mitigation planning guides were developed for key decision makers in community settings. Abt developed strategic communication and dissemination strategies that can be quickly implemented. We also created media, social media and marketing materials to raise awareness about the availability of the planning guides and move the target audiences to implement the prescribed strategies. Additionally, we designed a comprehensive evaluation plan to assess the efficacy of the communication and dissemination strategies.

Contact Us

Cynthia Klein
Principal Associate/Scientist
Health & Environment
Atlanta, GA
(404) 946-6310 (O)

Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC)

Abt Associates is an engine for social impact, harnessing the power of data and grounded insight to bring people from vulnerability to security worldwide.  We think boldly to deliver solutions that cross disciplines, methods, and geographies. Abt provides impact through research, evaluation, and program implementation in the fields of health, social and environmental policy, and international development.