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Five Tips for Campaign Development

This news item is the tenth in a 10-part series on public health communication. This installment focuses on developing effective public health media campaigns.

This news item is the tenth in a 10-part series on public health communication. This installment focuses on developing effective public health media campaigns.

Developing a public health media campaign is no small task. It requires planning, creativity, an understanding of health behavior theory, and substantial monetary resources. Campaign development takes time and careful planning; entire books have been devoted to the subject alone. The following tips and best practice examples will get you started on your way to building an effective campaign.

1. Apply the 5 Ps. In social marketing, the 5 Ps—product, place, price, promotion, and policy—can help guide health promotion practices. This simple framework helps identify the behavior you are trying to encourage (product), where your target audience adopts or thinks about a behavior (place), the barriers to that behavior (price), and how to influence the behavior (promotion). The fifth P, which is a recent addition to this construct, considers the way policy influences this behavior.

Watch this PSA from the Ad Council and try to identify the 5 Ps.

2. Choose the right message appeal. Message appeals are the means by which people are influenced to adopt a behavior. Examples of appeals include threat/fear, rationality, emotion, humor, and individualism. Some campaigns may employ more than one appeal. How you determine your appeal(s) should be based on your target audience. For instance, after pre-testing your messages, you may find that older populations are generally more influenced by fear, while younger audiences are influenced by emotional and humorous appeals.

3. Know your audience. Identifying your target audience not only helps you choose the right message appeal, it also helps you choose what type of media to use in your campaign. A campaign for teens may be a good fit for a social media campaign or a television ad, but a campaign for parents might employ billboards or radio ads.  Before buying ad space, do your research, and make sure your decisions will get the best return on investment.

4. Identify “free” placement opportunities. Some media outlets will place PSAs at no cost. (Don’t forget—you will still endure production costs!) These radio or TV spots are usually either 30 or 60 seconds long. It’s a good idea to have both versions so the station can be flexible. Keep in mind that this placement is made at the discretion of the station, so work with their production team to arrange air times that are effective for your campaign.

5. Test your message. As we’ve mentioned, campaigns are pricey. To make sure you are spending wisely, pre-test your message, formally or informally. This will help you better predict how your target audience will respond to the campaign and its messages and give you the chance to adjust your materials accordingly.

This post has included links to several PSA examples. Searching the Ad Council website is a fun and interesting way to learn more about campaigns. As you explore their library of examples, think about which ones resonate with you the most and what elements draw your attention. Additionally, NWCPHP offers numerous toolkits for campaign planning and training opportunities that will more thoroughly guide you through the campaign development process.

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