Background on Campaigns & Promotions
What are sexual assault prevention campaigns and promotions?
- Campaigns and promotions strategies send messages about sexual assault prevention to large audiences. These strategies help raise awareness, provide information or change attitudes about sexual assault prevention. Information may be general or specific to a population.
- These messages may be distributed through television and radio advertisements, newspapers, advertisements in medical journals, billboards, websites, brochures and a number of other communication channels. Well-known public figures, such as celebrities or athletes, can draw attention to the messages.
- Use of consistent messages across the different communication channels, such as print, television and radio, can help audiences remember the messages.
- Specific sexual assault prevention and reduction messages can:
- change attitudes and awareness about sexual assault prevention, such as why rape or sexual assault happens, rates of child sexual abuse or sexual assault services and support;
- promote behavior changes to prevent or reduce sexual assault and the negative consequences associated with assault, such as encouraging individuals to get help, individual use of campus escort services; or
- change community norms, such as limiting sexual violence in the media, role modeling appropriate dating behaviors.
How can I use campaigns and promotions to prevent or reduce sexual assaults?
- Campaigns and promotions can create community awareness about the importance of sexual assault prevention and reduction to health and quality of life. Increasing knowledge and awareness is often the first step to supporting behavior change, such as avoiding walking alone at night or identifying violent dating behaviors right away. Campaigns and promotions can help individuals become ready to change their behavior.
- Previous work shows that campaigns and promotions used with other intervention strategies, such as policy changes or individual education, are more likely to change behavior. For example, campaigns and promotions may be tied to campus security policies on safe transportation options.
- Mass media campaigns are the most common of these strategies. These campaigns have helped to increase knowledge and awareness about adult and child sexual abuse and resources available in the community to prevent or reduce sexual assault.
What are the different strategies to prevent or reduce sexual assault?
- Mass media campaigns use media channels, such as newspaper, radio, television, and internet, to deliver messages to large numbers of people in schools, worksites, communities, regions or states.
- Campaigns translate what are often complicated messages into specific, easily understood, messages about sexual assault prevention. The campaign can be used to raise awareness, provide information or change attitudes and community norms.
- Some of these messages may identify specific resources, such as a hotline or campus escort service, and others provide more general recommendations, such as changing beliefs about sexual assault prevention or increasing awareness of types of support for victims.
- Mass media campaigns are useful because they can reach and educate large numbers of individuals about sexual assault prevention. If, for example, a mass media campaign on college campuses in a large metropolitan area addresses 100,000 college students and successfully increases sexual assault awareness in 3% of the student population, then the campaign has reached 3,000 students.
- Mass media campaigns can minimize staff time. Once the campaign begins, individuals read, watch or listen to the messages on their own. They may cost less per person when the campaign is in a large community. For other strategies, more time and funding may be necessary to reach this many people. Finally, the messages and materials can be reused or updated for long-term efforts.
- Mass media campaigns (particularly television advertisements) can be very expensive to get started. Some individuals may think the messages are not relevant to them because they are addressed to everyone.
- These campaigns are difficult to evaluate. Tracking how many individuals actually received or read the messages can be very expensive in a large community.
What do I need to know to develop campaigns and promotions?
- The most appropriate campaign messages and ways to communicate those messages may differ depending upon the target population. For example, victims and perpetrators may need very different information and resources.
- Campaigns and promotions can be created for an entire community or for a particular group. For example, the message may be intended for school-age children, college students, families, caregivers or health care providers. Messages may also be translated into different languages or designed for groups with different beliefs, traditions or cultures.
- Messages to change knowledge, attitudes or beliefs about sexual assault prevention or reduction are most effective if they are specific to different groups. For example, college students may require information about resources available on campus rather than resources for child abuse prevention.
- Campaigns with specific messages for smaller groups are more effective in improving knowledge and awareness than larger campaigns. However, larger campaigns are more likely to reach greater numbers of individuals.
- Longer campaigns with a greater number of events or materials are more effective in changing attitudes and beliefs, but these campaigns are also more complex and expensive.
- Campaigns and promotions can provide a direct message about sexual assault prevention or reduction or they can provide an indirect message about changes in behavior, environments or policies that lead to fewer sexual assaults. For example, some messages describe ways to prevent date rape and other messages offer a list of escort services on campus.
- Campaigns work best when the messages are positive rather than negative. For example, people respond better to messages about ways to prevent sexual assault than to messages about the harmful consequences of being a sexual assault victim.
- Promotional items may be used to increase knowledge and awareness of sexual assault prevention and ways to prevent or reduce sexual assault. For example, bumper stickers, key chains, t-shirts or other types of gifts can have campaign messages or intervention resources on them.
Who do I work with to create campaigns and promotions?
- To get help with your campaign or promotion, the messages or the ways to communicate those messages, you may want to work with some of the following individuals or groups:
- civic organizations/ community organizations (Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, YWCA, YMCA, women’s groups)
- advocacy organizations and coalitions
- health departments
- neighborhood organizations
- metropolitan centers
- media personnel (e.g., newspaper, billboards)
- advertising agencies
- professional athletes
- county officials/community leaders
- law enforcement officials
- government agencies
- community members
- television and radio personnel
- mental health and social service personnel
- legal services
- child protection officials