Designing Public Health Campaigns That Make An Impact

Designing Public Health Campaigns That Make An Impact

Mary CatalfamoJun 22, 2023

A successful public health campaign educates and empowers people to make choices that have long-term benefits for themselves, their families, and their communities.

Idea Kraft has developed several impactful public health campaigns for nonprofits, municipalities, and government agencies throughout New York State and beyond. Here’s what we’ve learned about forging a healthier, happier future one cause at a time:

Retire the scare tactics.

As part of the “High Stakes” campaign, which informed teenagers and parents about the effects of marijuana use, Idea Kraft produced candid interviews with local public figures and organized an Instagram giveaway that young people entered by sharing their creative projects.

Both of these strategies avoid moral judgments and negativity about marijuana use, while helping the target audience understand that there are better ways to spend their time and energy. It just goes to show that scare tactics aren’t necessary to make your audience take public health issues seriously.

In fact, there’s plenty of research to suggest that people are more responsive to empowering and fact-first messages. You can even put the concept of empowerment into action by inviting community members to participate in your public health campaign directly – whether it be during development or execution.

Disrupt assumptions behind the behavior.

Public health issues rarely occur in a vacuum. The Higher Education Center, an Ohio State institution researching substance misuse prevention, notes that unsafe or unhealthy choices are often driven by misconceptions about social norms and what “everyone else” is doing.

But don’t just tell your audience their assumptions are wrong; use data to prove it.

That’s what Idea Kraft did when Binghamton University received a state grant to address alcohol and substance use among college students. Our team developed a public health campaign that showed students how much their peers at BU actually drank on average, dispelling the idea that heavy drinking and binge drinking was a normal occurrence on their campus.

Public health campaigns may not need to combat social norms as often as they need to combat social misconceptions.

Don’t confuse an audience for an identity.

A message that doesn’t feel intended for you isn’t likely to have any impact on you. So it’s important to remember that people aren’t likely to self-identify with a broad category – even one they fall under.

When the Rural Health Network of SCNY asked Idea Kraft to help them spread the word about their program for seniors, we considered how that audience would prefer to learn about assistance available to them. Avoiding an impersonal label like “seniors in Northern Broome County,” we created print collateral that spoke to “aging in a rural community.”

Think about how your audience would describe themselves and how they would prefer to receive information in their day-to-day lives. A strategy that’s tailored to your audience’s sense of self will help them realize that your message is relevant to them personally.

Action helps measure impact.

Bring your message full circle with a call to action, whether it be to participate in an event, submit a response to a survey, or to visit a landing page with more information.

Idea Kraft built a dynamic multimedia public health campaign to promote the Prevention Coalition of Broome County’s Drug Take Back Day and spread awareness about how improper medication handling can lead to accidental poisonings, overdoses, and increased rates of drug addiction.

We ran digital, billboard, and broadcast ads directing people to a landing page that both advertised the event and educated people on the underlying public health issue. Our client was able to measure impact through impressions, engagements, landing page traffic, and the impressive event turnout.

Drug Takeback Day removed 600 pounds of unused and expired drugs from the reach of children, pets, and people vulnerable to addiction. Giving people an action to take can not only have real-world benefits – it can give you a way to quantify the positive impact of your campaign.

Making safer, healthier communities.

Idea Kraft knows firsthand that change is possible. Let us help your organization develop a public health campaign that empowers and inspires your community; schedule a consultation today.

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