Native Hawaiian
and Pacific Islanders

NHPI Collective COVID-19 Awareness and Prevention Campaign

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders (NHPI) have been and continue to be disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Hawai‘i Department of Health, Native Hawaiians accounted for 30% of the COVID-19 cases between late June and late November 2021. A hui (group) of NHPI-serving organizations – including Kamehameha Schools, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement and more – came together in Fall 2020 to take a cultural approach to stop the spread of COVID-19 and promote the safety and wellness of their communities through strategic communications initiatives. Kamehameha Schools engaged Bennet Group to lead the communications initiatives of the campaign. As the pandemic’s challenges evolved, so did the strategic priorities of the hui. Currently, Bennet Group is working with the hui to increase the vaccination rate of the NHPI community through targeted messaging addressing those who are vaccine-hesitant.

• Develop all messages and materials rooted in NHPI culture, values and language, so it resonates with our target audience.
• Hyper-curate our messages in multiple ways, by demographics, psychographics, but always via an NHPI lens – one rooted in culture, values and language – and make messages visual, simple and culturally relevant.
• Focus only on audiences that are vaccine-hesitant, as opposed to those who outright refuse to get the vaccine.
• Use traditional and nontraditional communications channels to reach individuals where they are.
• Combat misinformation while advancing positive, affirming messages focusing on vaccine acceptance rather than vaccine hesitancy.
• Engage trustworthy, community- and audience-specific NHPI leaders as authentic spokespeople to be featured in earned media opportunities, PSAs and other materials.
• Leverage the participating organizations’ networks by amplifying and crossposting all content across each hui member’s owned media (websites, e-blasts and social media) to reach more individuals organically.
• Spark positive social trends and inspire pono behavior among young NHPIs by communicating through their preferred medium of social media and engaging with influencers to share campaign messages through their unique styles.

Bennet Group worked with KS and the hui and achieved the following outcomes: • Developed several PSAs featuring Native Hawaiian pastors, traditional navigators, doctors and others sharing timely messages throughout the campaign; promoted the PSAs through earned, owned and paid media channels.
• Secured several impactful earned media placements, including but not limited to:
◦ A front-page cover story in the Honolulu Star Advertiser raising awareness of the disproportionate impact of the virus on the NHPI, why the hui began its work and featuring spokespeople from five of the hui organizations,
◦ A guest column in Midweek written by a Native Hawaiian doctor describing the impact of Native Hawaiian leadership during the pandemic and highlighting the work of numerous hui organizations to date,
◦ And a Civil Beat Cafe panel entitled How The Pandemic Has Affected Hawaii's Indigenous People, featuring two hui representatives.
• Launched a targeted paid media campaign with print placements in Midweek, airtime for a PSA on Hawaiʻi News Now, and a digital flight to boost social posts and video content to users in West O‘ahu.
• Designed a suite of materials customized for digital, print and social media distribution and provided to hui ambassadors to share with their respective networks to retain a peer-to-peer engagement strategy built on trust and respect.
• Engaged NHPI social media influencers like Kamaka Pili and Mele Apana to share campaign messages about pandemic best practices, resulting in four videos earning thousands of viewers.