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Promising Strategies for Media Health and Safety Campaigns

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  1. Promising Strategies for Media Health and Safety Campaigns Dr. Charles Atkin Michigan State University

  2. 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

  3. 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 ?

  4. Beyond Creativity Creative Inspiration vs. Disciplined Design Overemphasis on artistic expression… catchy slogans, death symbols, clever characters Effectiveness = Creativity + Discipline

  5. Strategic Framework • Audience Analysis • Direct & indirect influence models • Persuasive appeals • Educational content • Research inputs at each stage

  6. 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

  7. #1 Fine-Tune Fear Appeals More effective if message presents…. • SUSCEPTIBILITY EVIDENCE • SUBTLE PORTRAYAL OF THREAT • EFFICACY INSTRUCTION

  8. #2Diversify Persuasive Appeals Multiple Mild & Likely Incentives > StandardSevere & UnlikelyFear Appeal Diverse outcomes: MINOR PHYSICALTHREATS SOCIAL / PSYCH / MORAL ECONOMIC / LEGAL POSITIVE INCENTIVES

  9. #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

  10. #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.

  11. #4a Competition • Inoculate against anti-safety media stimuli discrepant with campaign: ADS NEWS ENTERTAINMENT -- Media literacy training -- Parody, ridicule, counterargue

  12. #5 Identify Ideal Messengers Source presenters: EXPERT (Top 5) EXPERIENCED CELEBRITY CHARACTER ORDINARY Engaging Credible Memorable Relevant Depends on message… channel… audience

  13. #6EconomicallyEnlarge Quantity • Imaginative publicity • Intermittent scheduling PROXIMATE PULSATION • Reinstate periodically forever NEWCOMERS BACKSLIDERS EVOLVERS

  14. #6a ENTERTAINMENT-EDUCATION Skillfully embed health & safety info in engaging formats: • TV: Program Inserts • PRINT: Comic Books • INTERNET: Serious Games “Product Placement”

  15. #7 Media Combinations • Lite Channels (Brief & Intrusive) Spots Billboards • RichChannels (Deep & Retrievable) Pamphlets Websites Programs Info-Seeking:LiteRich

  16. #8 SUPPLEMENTAL PATHWAYS Media + Interpersonal TWO-STEP FLOW MEDIA OPINION LEADER OTHERS

  17. #8a Supplemental Paths • Prompt the personal influencers -- FAMILY -- PEERS -- AUTHORITY FIGURES • Messages to motivate those in position to educate, persuade, control

  18. #9Key Supplement:Media Advocacy • Specialized campaign messages to change environmental conditions by influencing: -- ENFORCERS -- DEVELOPERS -- PUBLIC OPINION -- POLICY MAKERS -- CORPORATIONS

  19. #9aMedia advocacy • Alter media & real-world environment -- RESTRICT ADVERTISING -- ENACT LAWS AND POLICIES -- ENERGIZE ENFORCEMENT

  20. #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

  21. 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