Communication Campaigns

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Comm 314:Chap. 12, Communication Campaigns

Communication campaign: A systematic, organized effort to mold health and social attitudes through the use of communication.

Examples: Give a hoot, don’t pollute.
Take a bite out of crime.
Just say no to drugs.
Friends don’t let friends drive drunk. Click it or ticket

• They have in common the purpose of improving individual behavior to improve individuals’ health, safety, and general life chances and/or to reduce or resolve a general social problem.

• They are generally non-commercial

• Are supported by a combination of government and non-profit agencies and organizations

• Usually combine mass media and interpersonal channels

They share many similarities with commercial advertising campaigns, with these major differences:

• They have much smaller budgets than ad campaigns, and are often in opposition to advertisers.

• They make more use of “non-paid” media (i.e., news).

• They make more systematic use of interpersonal and organizational communication • Ad campaigns usually try to get people to do something that will be fun or interesting, communication campaigns often try to get people to stop doing something they enjoy, or not start it in the first place (i.e., smoking).

• Advertisers go for people with money to spend; campaigns go for the hardest to reach members of the community.

• Campaigns involve political issues and can generate opposition (tobacco)

• Campaigns can involve values, both in the selection of “problems” to solve, the way such problems should be solved, and who is to “blame” for such problems. (Consider abstinence education)

Location of effects

The last point illustrates that there are at least two “levels” of effort and effects in communication campaigns:

• Individual: Are individuals targeted with persuasive efforts to get them to change attitudes and behaviors?

Are messages aimed at individuals to get them to wear their seat belts, eat less fatty food, or not drink and drive?

• Social, community, institutional: Are efforts aimed at changing policies in order to discourage individual behaviors?

Are efforts aimed at community leaders, city councils, and state legislators to get them to make it a traffic violation to not wear a seatbelt, to ban the use of transfats in restaurants, or to increase penalties for drunk driving?

• The most successful campaigns do both.

Seat belt campaigns have been backed up by laws requiring seat belt use, drunk driving is discouraged through much stiffer penalties, many cities have banned the use of transfats in restaurants, schools have removed snack and soda machines from schools, and smoking has been banned nearly everywhere.

Theoretical Perspectives

I. Psychological/Individual change

Stages of change theory: People don’t jump to major changes in beliefs, attitudes, and behavior over night. They move gradually through the stages of:

• Precontemplation: people are not aware of or have not given much thought to the issue or problem, or don’t see it as problematic.

A person is seriously overweight, with hypertension and a pre-diabetic condition, and may not know it or be aware of behaviors that contribute to these conditions, or doesn’t understand the seriousness of it.

• Contemplation: people become aware that their behavior is problematic and consider how they might change.

The person has become aware of the seriousness of the issue, the negative effects on his/her life and life chances, and knows change is needed.

• Action: people begin to try to make changes.

The person begins to try to eat better and get more exercise.

Different kinds of information are needed at each...
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