Background on Campaigns & Promotions
What are campaigns and promotions strategies?
- Intervention tools to educate the public about diabetes and to increase the prevention and management of diabetes (e.g., lifestyle changes to reduce weight or increase health, medications to regulate glucose levels) in your community.
- They can occur through television and radio advertisements, newspapers, posters, billboards, signs, brochures, clothing, stickers, and a number of other communication channels. One of the most important lessons learned from previous work is the importance of using consistent messages across a variety of communication channels.
- Using specific diabetes messages, campaigns and promotions can:
- increase awareness of potential disabilities that may result from diabetes (e.g., foot problems, vision problems),
- highlight the association between specific health conditions and diabetes (e.g., obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels),
- promote behavior changes to reduce the risk of getting diabetes or minimize the impact of diabetes (e.g., nutrition and physical activity),
- improve knowledge and skills related to benefits and challenges to the management of diabetes (e.g., monitor A1C levels, take medications),
- change community norms (e.g., offer healthy food options in restaurants and grocery stores, provide opportunities for physical activity).
How do campaigns and promotions impact diabetes related behaviors?
- Campaigns and promotions are particularly useful in creating community awareness about the importance of diabetes prevention and management to health and quality of life. Increasing knowledge and awareness is often the first step to supporting behavior change (e.g., eating healthy foods, getting physical activity, monitoring glucose levels, taking medication regularly). Campaigns and promotions may help individuals become ready to change their behavior.
- Messages work best when they are specific, easily understood, address what and how to eat (e.g., more fruits and vegetables, less fat, smaller portion sizes), recommend different types of physical activity as well as the duration and frequency of activity, and clarify how to monitor glucose levels and take medications.
- Campaigns and promotions may be used alone to increase knowledge and awareness or may be part of other intervention strategies.
What are mass media campaigns and how can I use them in my diabetes intervention?
- Mass media campaigns translate what are often complicated diabetes messages into specific, easily understood messages. Mass media campaigns can provide messages about a specific change in eating patterns (e.g., increase fruits and vegetables, increase low fat milk) or provide more general recommendations (e.g., follow the food guide pyramid). As described above, the campaign can be used to raise awareness, provide information, or change attitudes and community norms. Media campaigns have proven to be most effective when combined with another intervention strategy. For example, a media campaign may be created so that the messages aired on local teen stations support the classroom curriculum that is promoting healthy snack foods or physical activity.
- One of the strengths of mass media campaigns is their ability to reach and educate large numbers of individuals about diabetes. If, for example, a mass media campaign in a large metropolitan area addresses 500,000 individuals and successfully increases the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes in 3% of the population, then the campaign has impacted the health of 15,000 individuals. Additionally, mass media campaigns can minimize staff time once the campaign is up and running because individuals read, watch, or listen to the messages on their own. They can also be relatively less expensive per person if the intervention is targeting a large community. Reaching this many people through other intervention strategies may require more time and funding that is often unavailable. Finally, the messages and materials have the ability to be reused or updated for long-term efforts.
- Mass media campaigns (particularly television advertisements) can be very expensive to get started and may seem impersonal to individuals in need of social support. In addition, these campaigns are difficult to evaluate in terms of tracking how many individuals actually received or read the messages, whether individuals changed behavior as a result of the mass media campaign and whether the behavior change has been sustained over time.
What are point-of-decision interventions and how can I use them in my diabetes intervention?
- Point-of-decision interventions have been conducted to provide cues to action to purchase healthy foods through restaurants, vending machines, and grocery stores; to make physically active choices such as taking the stairs; and to remind individuals to check their glucose levels or take their medication. Many of these messages have been positively framed to highlight the benefits of healthy behavioral patterns (e.g., increase physical well being, prevents vision or foot problems) rather than negatively framed (e.g., eating unhealthy foods and a lack of physical activity makes you overweight).
- As with mass media campaigns, point-of-decision interventions have the ability to reach and educate large numbers of individuals with minimal cost. The greatest effect on changes in individual behavior occurs at the beginning of the intervention. However, as individuals become accustomed to seeing point-of-decision materials, they also become less attentive and less interested in the messages communicated.
What should I consider when developing messages for my diabetes intervention?
- The most appropriate messages and ways to communicate those messages may differ depending upon the target population. Campaigns and promotions may be intended for an entire community or they can be targeted to meet the needs or interests of a particular group. For example, the message may be geared toward young people (e.g., eat a well-balanced school lunch, participate in physical education activities) or pregnant mothers (e.g., how to manage gestational diabetes). Messages may be conveyed in different languages and address cultural norms in different communities (e.g., Spanish, Vietnamese).
- Messages are often most effective if they are geared toward specific changes in knowledge, attitudes, or beliefs about diabetes that are particularly salient for the group of interest. For example, children of persons with diabetes may be particularly motivated to do everything they can to protect their own health.
- Interventions can provide a direct message about the prevention and management of diabetes (e.g., getting physical activity, monitoring glucose levels) or an indirect message about changes in behavior, environments, or policies that lead to increases in the prevention and management of diabetes (e.g., advertising a farmer’s market or supporting funds for a new walking trail).
- Previous work also suggests the importance of framing messages positively rather than negatively (i.e., highlighting the benefits of eating nutritious foods rather than the consequences of eating non-nutritious foods).
- In addition, promotional items may be used to promote awareness of (i.e., branding) the intervention or enhance ability of individuals to engage in desired behavior(s).
With whom should I work to create the best message for my diabetes intervention?
- To develop your campaign or promotional intervention or to determine the most appropriate messages and ways to communicate those messages, it is often helpful to work with different community partners. Examples of potential partners include:
- supermarkets or grocery stores
- parks and recreation centers
- canned food stores
- restaurants (fast food and other)
- food producers/manufacturers
- food vendors/retailers
- consumer organizations
- food stamp office
- WIC clinic sites
- senior center/independent living facilities
- civic organizations/community organizations (Head Start, Girl Scouts, YMCA, youth, environment)
- health departments
- metropolitan centers
- rural areas
- cooking professionals
- media personnel (e.g., newspaper, billboards)
- advertising agencies
- professional models
- county officials/community leaders
- government agencies
- community members
- television and radio personnel