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  • US FDA

How The FDA Combatted Misinformation and Increased Trust with Powerful Messaging Campaigns


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of External Affairs, Web and Digital Services Staff sought a tool that would help make running messaging campaigns easier and more effective, with the goal of expanding their reach to ensure timely and relevant information dissemination to a wider audience. Granicus’ govDelivery offered the platform to meet that need and help double their subscriber goals.

“We have a lot of communication functions within my team that support the mission as a whole with FDA. But specifically, in the time that we're living in, in an era of disinformation and misinformation, we use govDelivery to make sure that the public is getting information that's not only relevant, but to help sift through what's real and what's not.”
Nicole Hollis, Marketing Manager, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Office of External Affairs, Web and Digital Services Staff


  • 1.77M increase in subscriptions 
  • 59.6% engagement rate
  • 170M impressions
  • 2x above subscriber goal
Must have Granicus Solutions

Strategizing to Combat Misinformation

As more people access information digitally, the importance of providing easy access to users has become paramount for communicators at all levels. For governments, however, it is equally, if not more important to deliver information in a voice that reflects the expertise and trustworthiness that comes from agencies dedicated to serving the best interest of the public.

For Nicole Hollis, Marketing Manager with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the Office of External Affairs, Web and Digital Services Staff (WDSS), establishing trustworthiness is a major goal; and one that requires messaging that rises above the digital din of sources that may run counter to the public good.

“The time that we're living in, in an era of disinformation and misinformation, we have to use our technologies to make sure that the public is getting information that's not only relevant, but to help sift through what's real and what's not. We try to stay on the front line of what's happening in the communications field. Our team gets those pieces of information that are relevant and accurate to the public in the way that they want to receive them.”
Nicole Hollis, Marketing Manager, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Office of External Affairs, Web and Digital Services Staff

Hollis’ team has achieved remarkable success leading a digital shift in how the public is served, which was recognized with a Digital Transformation award in the 2023 Granicus Digital Government Awards. Through their proactive efforts, the office looked to transition from outdated technology and traditional in-person interaction to a modern digital presence to shift how the FDA engages with the public, and enhance service delivery, transparency, and accessibility.

“Our goal was really to, in many areas, talk to people as if we were talking to a friend,” Hollis said of the communications strategy. “That’s very important, as is working with some of our more scientific partners to bring things into a plain language so that we can deliver content that is easier for the general public to understand.”

As a team within a large government agency, however, Hollis knew that taking a piecemeal approach to communicating individual messages wouldn’t build the momentum and connection that her team was seeking. It was clear that connecting outreach channels into a unified campaign approach would help proactively deliver critical updates, regulatory information, and educational content directly to stakeholders via email and social media channels.

Hollis’ team sought a tool that would make running messaging campaigns easier and more effective. They needed a solution to ascertain subscriber preferences, create campaigns to engage new stakeholders, and maintain relationships with current stakeholders.


A Centralized Source for Multi-Channel Messaging

FDA’s WDSS office implemented Granicus’ govDelivery to broaden the abilities and options available to their communication strategies. Hollis said her staff was able to better target and optimize those strategies and improve engagement with the public by leveraging the platform’s integrated analytics and data insights.

“People really took to using the analytics, especially the website team,” Hollis said. “What pages or terms are being searched? Where is the traffic going? And that helps inform the social team, even beyond the engagement metrics, to look at what subjects need to be highlighted or showcased.”

With better informed strategies, Hollis said that the team has been able to create a robust social media presence across multiple platforms for sharing important announcements, educational resources, and updates to keep the public informed, as well as encourage two-way communication by actively responding to inquiries, comments, and concerns, and targeting specific messaging to audience segments.

Hollis said govDelivery’s integrated analytics and tools that allow for omnichannel messaging to be deployed easily from one source enable her to manage communications campaigns more easily, as well as make sure subscribers receive relevant information without duplication despite numerous messaging sources within the agency.

“We have, I think, over 200 subscription lists publicly available, over 500 lists that live within our platform, and 338 admins,” she said. “So, a challenge is coordinating what’s going out to the public, with users who can be on multiple different lists. Having one tool makes it easier to avoid duplication and streamline how we get that message to subscribers.”

The targeted campaign ability found within govDelivery can help when announcing new drug approvals or other topics that Hollis said draw a great deal of public attention.

“All of our efforts are coordinated in terms of what’s coming out and when,” she said. “What’s going to the public, in which channels? The press may get a release on, for instance, a cosmetic band. And then the consumer update team will do their communications piece on that. But it will all align with social media execution timing, down to press calls. Being able to manage that more easily has been very helpful for us.”

The department also increased video conferencing to facilitate collaboration and transitioned to a larger number of virtual conferences, seminars, and workshops to provide platforms for expertise and increase accessibility and inclusivity.


Strong Engagement, New Areas to Explore

Taking a more centralized approach to their use of digital technology has seen positive impacts for FDA and the WDSS team on both the individual campaign level and in the greater efforts to build trust with an audience that increasingly relies on information from the agency.

Hollis said using the campaign feature within govDelivery for the Consumer Updates topics—which focus on recalls or other important and timely information—has seen a near doubling of subscribers and increased engagement with messaging.

“We haven't seen any dips in numbers,” she added. “Using the campaign tools has really helped that team figure out a sort of magic formula for keeping their subscribers engaged even when there is no content coming out. Not only did they meet their goals, but they exceeded them.”
Nicole Hollis, Marketing Manager, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Office of External Affairs, Web and Digital Services Staff

Across the numerous topics FDA manages within govDelivery, Hollis reported that unsubscribe rates remain under 2%, with engagement rates averaging between 58% and 60%. She said they continue to see consistent growth in subscribers, with social channels also driving engagement with the agency.

“We use popular and familiar memes and imagery to drive social interactions on our social channels, with some posts going viral,” she said. “Most of these changes were driven because we leveraged key metrics and feedback to drive change in the way we communicate with the public. But with over 300 topics, it’s like herding cats sometimes. We’ve been piecing these together and dropping these little nuggets that people respond to.”

Being able to create campaigns that extend across various communications channels from one source has offered FDA a powerful tool in the battle against misinformation. Hollis said the team will look to expand their campaigns into other channels, such as SMS messaging, as those features become available in govDelivery.

Equally important has been the ways in which expanding the communications options through govDelivery has made information more accessible to a broader audience. The department also put a great deal of attention toward ensuring their digital platforms (websites, emails, and social media content) met accessibility standards and prioritized the needs of individuals with disabilities, providing equal access to information and services. Hollis said she feels their accomplishments demonstrate a commitment to leveraging digital tools to better engage with the public and provide them with valuable and accessible information and services.

“Those are two big areas for us: What you’re searching for and how it’s delivered,” she said. “We did a really good job in terms of technical accessibility. There’s no getting around that. But when we think of accessibility, we think of who is accessing this as well. We’re always going to look for ways for more people to get information more easily.”