Healthy COVID-19 Behaviors

Most “healthy behaviors” that can stem viral spread (e.g., mask adoption, social distancing, sanitizing, limiting social distancing) are new to people living in the United States. Getting people to adopt these behaviors requires enacting new public health policies and changing public perceptions and social norms about these behaviors. Providing people with up-to-date science and policy information is very important, but changing behavior also involves building trust, listening to the unique perspectives of various communities, and creating messaging that is relevant and accessible to those communities. We initially focused on changing behavioral norms around mask use, social distancing, and avoiding social gatherings. We believe that this strategy can be used in a wide range of other contexts.

Governor Inslee's
State of Washington
Mask Campaign

In June of 2020, Restart Partners was asked by the Governor of the State of Washington, Jay Inslee, to launch the “Wear a Mask WA campaign” (link to press release and/or video – #WearAMaskWA Initiative – YouTube).  Modeled after New York State’s campaign, the Restart adoption team employed the help of University of Washington Communications Leadership and  a team of graduate students to create and run the initiative. Over 600 submissions in multiple languages throughout WA state were posted to  #WearAMaskWA social media. It shortly after  evolved to #MaskUpWA in response to Gov. Inslee’s state-wide mask mandate.

University of Washington
Population Health Grant

Also in June 2020, University of Washington Population Health Initiative awarded Restart additional funding to continue its work on safe economic recovery.  We have and continue to work closely with the University of Washington, Washington State Department of Health and other government agencies

National mask survey

With the support and expertise from Kantar, a national market research firm, we surveyed over 1,000 participants from across the US to identify common motivations for wearing masks, barriers to mask use, and the best ways to encourage mask use. Our messaging strategy was informed by our survey findings and by other recognized primary and secondary research data.

Vaccine Adoption
Capstone Project

Restart Partners contracted a team of graduate student consultants from the University of Washington Evans School of Public Policy & Governance to create a Washington State COVID-19 vaccine adoption strategy as their culminating Capstone project. Their work will include stakeholder interviews, a stakeholder analysis, a policy landscape analysis, and public health communication strategy recommendations, which will inform our social media messaging campaign.

Facebook: Social Media Messaging & Message Testing Campaigns

In partnership with the Communications Leadership School at the University of Washington, we launched a Facebook/Instagram social media messaging campaign to encourage mask use and other healthy behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Informed by the national Kantar mask survey results and other primary and secondary research, we launched our social marketing campaign in partnership with Facebook and UpSwell which initially focused on mask use adoption. Using generous ad credits donated by Facebook, we circulated relevant articles, photos, and memes – including original creative content and content from reputable outside sources. We also developed content focusing on social gatherings and seasonal flu vaccination. Our evidence-based work utilized rapid message testing and micro-targeting to validate and refine the creatives to gain the highest results.  Due to the outstanding positive impact of our ads, Facebook subsequently increased the ad credits donation to expand the campaign to 20 more states throughout the U.S. focusing on those with the lowest mask adoption during the crucial 2020 holiday season.

health-facebook-4In collaboration with the University of Washington Communication Leadership Program, Restart Partners is continuing to run evidence-informed Facebook and Instagram campaigns to encourage mask use, COVID-19 vaccinations and other healthy behaviors, and now to build consumer confidence in small businesses in Washington State.

We will continue to use our rapid message testing and micro-targeting to understand and validate which messages, platforms, influencers, and techniques work best. Our unique audience-informed approach allows us to shift our messaging on a weekly or even daily basis depending on engagement. This approach is essential for public health issues like COVID-19 safety, where public perceptions and facts on the ground are constantly changing.

Our diverse team brings a creative, culturally-aware lens to the messaging and deployment of the campaign, allowing us to meet the needs of vulnerable target audiences.  Ongoing partnerships with Facebook and UpSwell increase the reach of our campaigns exponentially, giving us access to cutting-edge survey tools to precisely measure the impact on public behavior.


Total Reach

Total number of people who see content


Total ads


Total impressions

Number of times the content is displayed

Restart Adoption Strategy Toolkit

We were informed by theory and evidence to targeted message development basing our work on metrics from available primary and secondary research, academic literature, input from communication experts, the results of a national survey we designed and implemented, as well as informal interviews with community and business leaders, and policymakers at the state and local levels.

Our team developed an 8-step methodology for encouraging mask use, which can be used by other stakeholders and extended to encompass a larger array of public health interventions.