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Promising Strategies for Media Health and Safety Campaigns Dr. Charles Atkin Michigan State University
Public Communication Campaigns Mediated messages disseminated to large audiences in homes and communities 1. Drunk driving & safety belts 2. High-risk drinking 3. Youth violence 4. Gun safety 5. Breast cancer environmental risks
Conventional Campaigns:LIMITED EFFECTS ON BEHAVIOR Media are efficient… but typically produce only modest degree of impact due to: • light quantity of dissemination • low potency of message content & style • selective exposure by prime targets • audience resistance to being influenced … safe practices: BENEFITS > COSTS ?
Beyond Creativity Creative Inspiration vs. Disciplined Design Overemphasis on artistic expression… catchy slogans, death symbols, clever characters Effectiveness = Creativity + Discipline
Strategic Framework • Audience Analysis • Direct & indirect influence models • Persuasive appeals • Educational content • Research inputs at each stage
10 Strategies of Effective Campaigners • Recent advances in media theory and research yields strategic improvements • Successful examples from own prevention studies in the safety domain
#1 Fine-Tune Fear Appeals More effective if message presents…. • SUSCEPTIBILITY EVIDENCE • SUBTLE PORTRAYAL OF THREAT • EFFICACY INSTRUCTION
#2Diversify Persuasive Appeals Multiple Mild & Likely Incentives > StandardSevere & UnlikelyFear Appeal Diverse outcomes: MINOR PHYSICALTHREATS SOCIAL / PSYCH / MORAL ECONOMIC / LEGAL POSITIVE INCENTIVES
#3 Accentuate the Positive • Greater emphasis on promoting product line of SAFE PRACTICES • Create attractive labels & images • Sensitize to media environment Cue audience into pro-safety messages
#4Address the Competition • Two-sided message strategy to deftly undermine unsafe practice Refutational discounting.of perceived advantages Acknowledge seemingly attractive aspects… …then argue that consequence is unlikely, . underwhelming, or unimportant.
#4a Competition • Inoculate against anti-safety media stimuli discrepant with campaign: ADS NEWS ENTERTAINMENT -- Media literacy training -- Parody, ridicule, counterargue
#5 Identify Ideal Messengers Source presenters: EXPERT (Top 5) EXPERIENCED CELEBRITY CHARACTER ORDINARY Engaging Credible Memorable Relevant Depends on message… channel… audience
#6EconomicallyEnlarge Quantity • Imaginative publicity • Intermittent scheduling PROXIMATE PULSATION • Reinstate periodically forever NEWCOMERS BACKSLIDERS EVOLVERS
#6a ENTERTAINMENT-EDUCATION Skillfully embed health & safety info in engaging formats: • TV: Program Inserts • PRINT: Comic Books • INTERNET: Serious Games “Product Placement”
#7 Media Combinations • Lite Channels (Brief & Intrusive) Spots Billboards • RichChannels (Deep & Retrievable) Pamphlets Websites Programs Info-Seeking:LiteRich
#8 SUPPLEMENTAL PATHWAYS Media + Interpersonal TWO-STEP FLOW MEDIA OPINION LEADER OTHERS
#8a Supplemental Paths • Prompt the personal influencers -- FAMILY -- PEERS -- AUTHORITY FIGURES • Messages to motivate those in position to educate, persuade, control
#9Key Supplement:Media Advocacy • Specialized campaign messages to change environmental conditions by influencing: -- ENFORCERS -- DEVELOPERS -- PUBLIC OPINION -- POLICY MAKERS -- CORPORATIONS
#9aMedia advocacy • Alter media & real-world environment -- RESTRICT ADVERTISING -- ENACT LAWS AND POLICIES -- ENERGIZE ENFORCEMENT
#10 Strategic Ambiguity Multi-purpose visual & verbal execution engenders differential interpretations: • Versatile stimuli concurrently impact multiple target audiences • Implicit or imprecise recommendations reduce reactance • Symbolic images, atypical examples, vague language surmount weak case
Conclusion Sophisticated strategies improve odds of success: • Apply disciplined design & analysis • Diversify pathways… incentives… channels • Stretch resources with publicity… pulsing… product placement • Combine persuasive messages with environmental reforms