Nedra is a social marketing consultant, author and speaker who works with nonprofits and government agencies for positive health and social change using social media, transmedia storytelling and entertainment education approaches at Weinreich Communications.Email me
Fly over a remote village watching people walking about, farmers tending to their crops, people buying and selling goods in the town markets. Browse anybody in the village and see what income, jobs, education they have. View the stores in the town center to find out what is selling well, and what's missing entirely. Set up your own store fronts to offer microcredit, kickstart pumps, solar cell rentals, all the self-sustaining businesses that will have the greatest impact on the villagers. Watch as farms flourish, villagers build new homes, and schools grow larger with more healthy children.Ultimately, there may be tie-ins to reality, with companies that sell products used by nonprofit aid organizations sponsoring the game, nonprofits soliciting donations, and the possibility of applying what is learned to real villages. I don't know if the business model will take off, given that there's not a lot of extra money floating around in this sector, but it could be a place for Second Lifers to escape the first-world commercialism that's invading their virtual space.
A representative sample of 635 American adults, of whom 49 percent were women, was randomly assigned to read one of three slightly different paragraphs about the vaccine through the Annenberg National Health Communication Survey.
One paragraph addressed how the vaccine protects against cervical cancer, another how the vaccine protects against cervical cancer and sexually transmitted infection and the third how the vaccine protects against cervical cancer, sexually transmitted infection and how it may or may not lead to increased sexual promiscuity among those vaccinated.
The survey was administered to determine the participant's intentions regarding vaccination.
When women in the survey read that the vaccine protects only against cervical cancer, 63 percent indicated that they were very likely or somewhat likely to get the vaccine compared to 43 percent of women who read that the vaccine protects against cervical cancer and a sexually transmitted infection.
When it's all about preventing cancer, most of the women wanted the vaccine. But when you introduce the factor of it protecting against a sexually transmitted infection -- even while still preventing the Big C -- almost a third of the women opted out. Is this because they don't think it is something that they need (because, after all, THEY would never get an STI), or is it because it stigmatizes the vaccine recipient who wants the cancer protection but does not want people to think she is at risk of an STI?
This has huge implications for how the vaccine is marketed -- especially to parents, who will likely make the decision whether their daughters should get it or not (the vaccine is approved for girls as young as 9 years old).
We would need to figure out what the key values are of the parents (who would likely make the decision) and appeal to those things that are most important to them -- feeling like a good parent, taking care of their daughters' health, making sure that their daughter will not have reproductive problems in the future. And, God forbid, the worst thing a parent can imagine is their child getting cancer -- what wouldn't they do or pay to prevent that from happening?In light of these research results, I stand by my recommendations. Looks like Merck is too.
Position the vaccine as preventing cervical cancer rather than focusing on anything that might suggest that their daughter would even consider becoming sexually active until she is an adult. Get the CDC to add the vaccine to their recommended immunization schedule so that doctors will provide it as a matter of course with other teen booster shots so that parents won't feel like the recommendation comes from a negative judgment of them or their daughters. Get insurance companies to cover some of the costs of the vaccination since they will have fewer cases of cervical cancer and STDs to pay for later. The fears about long-term effects may be addressed by comparing the risks of the vaccine to other similar products and showing that the benefits far outweigh the possible risks.
Catherine Tate [a TV comic] catapulted her word into national parlance in November 2005 when at the 77th Royal Variety Performance in Cardiff she asked the Queen: "Is one bothered?" Dictionary compilers say the catchphrase needs little explanation.
A spokesman for the OED said: "Am I bovvered? and it's follow-up Does my face looked bovvered? had already come to be seen as the perfect expression of a generation of teenagers and their speaking style.
"Now in 2006 'bovvered' has taken over from 'whatever' as the signature phrase of teenagers, and to challenge the Little Britain catchphrase 'yeah-but-no-but' as the embodiment of couldn't-care-less adolescence."
Am I bovvered? Gotta go elbow bump my buds before I do some carbon neutral ghostriding. See ya.
The CDC analyzed U.S. health survey data in 1999. Researchers concluded that of the 38 million Americans who regularly watch daytime soap operas, almost half said they learned something about diseases and how to prevent them. Even better, about a third of viewers said they took some action based on what they saw on a soap opera, including 7% who visited a doctor and 6% who did something to prevent a health problem.Getting your issue on TV is not as simple as sending a fact sheet to the producer of a show. People who are working in this field have developed relationships over time with writers, researchers, producers and others in the entertainment industry. They are trusted not to push an agenda or a specific plotline, but to provide accurate facts and ideas that writers can then weave into their storytelling.
A year later, the CDC looked at prime-time television. It found that of Americans who tuned in twice a week or more, 52% said they trusted the health information they see to be accurate, and 26% said that prime-time TV was among their top three sources for health information.
Now there is a growing industry in Hollywood made up of advocates who are neither entertainers nor insiders, but who want their disease or issue to get dramatic play before a mass audience. Similar to product placement, it's a kind of ideas placement. A group called the Entertainment Professionals Resource Assn. pulls dozens of these groups together, including the American Cancer Society, Down Syndrome in Arts and Media, the American Heart Assn. and the Mental Health Media Partnership.So the next time you see Jack Bauer get into his Ford Expedition on 24, you'll probably also see him put on his seatbelt, thanks to the work of health advocates and their receptive Hollywood audience.
"We're trying to shift the norm," says Deborah Glik, director of the UCLA Health and Media Research Group, who is affiliated with the entertainment group. "When you're going to portray a health issue anyway, and you're working with a platform that reaches millions of people, you should do it accurately."
Members make themselves available with scientific facts and a bank of real citizens willing to tell their stories. They carefully push their causes, knowing they walk a delicate line between sparking creativity and triggering annoyance.
David Sampson, director of media relations at the American Cancer Society, has learned that it's better if his organization stays away from pitching specific plots. Policy wonks, it turns out, aren't so good at recognizing the germ of a compelling story line. "Writers come to us," he says, "and almost invariably, they'll pick up on some bit of information that we had no intention of relaying."
But the society doesn't hesitate to advise, when asked. When Alexis on the soap opera "General Hospital" was diagnosed with lung cancer despite being a nonsmoker, Sampson heard that writers wanted to attribute her disease to asbestos exposure. "About 4,000 non-smokers a year come down with lung cancer," he says. "But short of working in a mine, you only get lung cancer from asbestos exposure if you're also a smoker." Exposure to second-hand smoke, the society suggested, was a far better explanation.
The idea is to present entertainment insiders with powerful real stories, inundate them with facts, and then sit back and hope the creative juices take over. "I believe the writer is king or queen," says Lisa Allen, director of the Media Project, which provides entertainment industry professionals with information on reproductive issues. "We don't preach, we don't proselytize."
For the past couple of years, I have consulted to Philip Morris USA on smoking cessation and prevention. I had primary responsibility for the content of the QuitAssist cessation guide, and also review and contribute to materials aimed at parents from the Youth Smoking Prevention group.
I work with a group of researchers and clinicians who are affiliated with various universities and hospitals. (We do this work independently from our institutions.) Part of our mandate is to oversee the quality of material content and evaluation, and be vigilant for any unintended negative effects.
Collaborating with a tobacco company can be an awkward and uncomfortable experience for a public health researcher who worked in tobacco control. But since Philip Morris USA is voluntarily committing 100s of millions of dollars to prevention and cessation – going well beyond the requirements of the Master Settlement Agreement - it’s important that a group of independent researchers and clinicians be part of this process to ensure that the resulting materials are honest, research-based, and effective.
My work has included: interviewing parents and former smokers and choosing quotes to use in print and web materials; incorporating research and advice from experts (selected by me) who work with smokers and parents; writing print and web content; and observing focus groups to help formulate and test content (including groups of Spanish speakers with simultaneous translation). I am proud of the brochures and guides I’ve helped develop. Their quality is apparent to anyone who reads them – which may explain why I have received at most a half-dozen phone calls or emails from academics, health workers or reporters asking why I got involved in this.
It is also exciting to be part of a project with such a huge reach. To date, PMUSA has distributed 70 million parent brochures, and hundreds of thousands of QuitAssist guides. The main role of the guide is to encourage smokers to connect with useful government and nonprofit cessation resources; I have heard that the PMUSA web site is the most visited cessation site in the US, and refers more traffic to government web resources than any other source.
I am not involved in developing PMUSA’s TV, radio or magazine ads on smoking cessation or prevention. But I do have some concerns about the article in December’s AJPH. There are some serious flaws in this study’s methodology that make it hard to draw any conclusions about the effects of the ads in question. To describe just two:
1) The “Talk, They’ll Listen” campaign that supposedly harmed children (the one aimed at parents) is based on an estimated exposure to an average of 1.13 thirty-second ads over a four-month period. Let’s take a closer look at this measure of ad exposure.
According to the recent Kaiser Family Foundation national survey, kids between the ages of 8-18 spend an average of 3 hours and 4 minutes per day watching broadcast television. Let’s call it three hours for simplicity’s sake.
There are 122 days in a 4-month period. So kids watch an average of 366 hours or 21,960 minutes of television in a 4-month period. A parent-oriented commercial lasts 30-seconds - or 1/43,920 of their viewing time. If they see 1.13 parent-oriented commercials in 4 months, that means that the commercials comprise 0.000026 (twenty-six one-millionths) of their television viewing content and time. Does it make sense to assume that such an extremely rare event would have the levels of influence on behaviors and attitudes that the authors claim? Based on this exposure issue alone, it’s hard to take the article seriously.
2) The authors should have used a 99% confidence interval (not 95%) with such a big data set [n=103,172]. That is a standard approach to avoid getting significant results just due to a large sample size. The use of 95% CIs raises questions about the odds ratios.
This is pretty disappointing. It’s hard not to think that the authors were determined to find something negative to say. The dramatic statements in the abstract are hedged a lot in the actual paper text, but the abstract is all that many researchers – and most journalists - will read.
This could have been an opportunity to get some useful lessons that could be applied to future media campaigns, and to model state-of-the-art methods for evaluating media-based behavior change materials – methods that could be used by academics and industry alike.
Among other things, it’s too bad that the authors lumped together ads aimed at youth from two companies that used very different approaches. This doesn’t tell us anything about what aspects might have been particularly helpful or harmful.
Given their well-documented past behavior, tobacco companies (and their anti-smoking media materials) must receive ongoing scrutiny from the public health community. But that shouldn't mean checking our common sense at the door.
Welcome to the marriage of painting and social activism. I’ve been creating art ever since discovering that my mom’s Chanel lipstick made a great oil pastel. Through formal art education and years of professional experience, the adult version of this vocation has evolved into my own job title, “painting journalist.” I’m addressing philanthropic issues utilizing painting as my medium of communication. Much like a photojournalist, I travel to locations/events of cultural interest and capture them, only with my brush.
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