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GSW: Media 101—Strategies to Bring Attention to Your Get Smart Campaign

Get Smart About Antibiotics Week (GSW)

GSW Event -- November 18-24, 2013

Principles that Work in Health Communication Campaigns

  1. Use multiple media
  2. Combine media and interpersonal strategies
  3. Segment audience
  4. Use celebrities to get attention; entertainment to sustain attention
  5. Provide simple, clear messages
  6. Emphasize positive behavior more than negative consequences
  7. Emphasize current rewards, not distant negative consequences
  8. Involve key power figures and organizations
  9. Take advantage of timing
  10. Use formative evaluation

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Step 1: Lay the Foundation (Research)

Campaign Goal:

Increase the knowledge of the general public and modify their attitudes and behaviors regarding appropriate antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance.

Media goal:

Attract media to increase the number and visibility of local media stories on the importance of appropriate antibiotic use.


Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound

Target Audiences

  1. Parents

    Main objective:

    1. Decrease demand for antibiotics for upper respiratory infections* among healthy adults and parents from X to X. *Upper Respiratory Infections include: pharyngitis, bronchitis, otitis media, sinusitis, and the common cold

    Secondary objectives:

    1. Decrease sharing and saving of previously prescribed antibiotics.
    2. Promote healthy behaviors to prevent acquiring an upper respiratory infection.
  2. Healthcare providers

    Main objective:

    Decrease unnecessary prescribing of antibiotics for upper respiratory infections from X to X.

    Key Messages:

    • Antibiotics do not fight viral illnesses such as colds.
    • Inappropriate use of antibiotics can be harmful to your child’s health — in fact, it can make infections stronger and harder to treat.
    • Work with your child’s doctor to find the best treatment for your sick child.

    Supporting messages:

    • Antibiotics do not treat viral illnesses like colds and sore throat (except strep throat).
    • Your body will fight viral illnesses that cause most upper respiratory infections.
    • You should only use antibiotics that are prescribed to you by a healthcare provider; always follow the instructions on the label and properly dispose of any leftover medication.
    • Do not share your antibiotics with anyone, not even a family member.
    • The inappropriate use of antibiotics may lead to unnecessary and sometimes dangerous side effects.
    • Each time people take antibiotics, they are more likely to carry resistant germs in their noses and throats.
    • Common antibiotics cannot kill these resistant germs.
    • Good hand hygiene is one of the best ways to keep from getting sick and spreading illnesses.
    • Appropriate antibiotic use can help protect you and your child.

See also: Get Smart Week Document: Step 1: Lay the Foundation

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Step 2: Select the Activities, Build partnerships (Planning/Action Communication)

What the media needs/wants to know?

Is this newsworthy?
How big is the problem?
Why is this impt? Why now? Why should I care?
What is hot right now?


  1. Work with your state Public Affairs Officer
    Who is your state Public Affairs Officer?

    The state PAO should…
    If you do not have the help of a PAO…

    • Write your own press release/pitch letter
    • Develop a media list. Who covers the health beat in your state/area?
    • Distribute the release.
    • Contact the editors/reporters.
    • Find out what stories have been published on the topic in the past six months/ Last year
  2. Contact a local public relations firm who would be willing to do “pro bono” media relations work: design and conduct a community survey - man on the street interviews- about antibiotic use. Publicize the results in the news release. Help with media pitching/training.
  3. Identify Event SpokespeopleIdentify one or more spokespeople from your coalition who can talk about the event with the media and others. Ideally, the spokespeople should:
    • Be knowledgeable about the appropriate antibiotic use issue you are addressing and also knowledgeable about the event.
    • Have prior experience interacting with the media. If your spokesperson does not have this experience, see if a local public relations firm would be willing to do “pro bono” media training.
    • Celebrity
    • Spanish-speaker?
    • Community role model/Opinion leader
  4. Provide context and perspective: Localize the information, statistics
    • Use testimonial(s) of a local person/family affected as third party endorsement
    • Contact hospitals for support groups and associations for parent/groups
    • What are the needs in your state related to antibiotic resistance?
    • Consider:
      • Areas or populations with high resistance rates
      • Hard to reach populations
      • Barriers for parents
      • Barriers for healthcare providers
  5. Tie-in with current events/studies
    • Flu season is coming soon…antibiotics won’t help your cold…
    • Dangerous side effects… Adverse events from antibiotics cause an estimated 142,000 emergency department visits per year in the United States, according to a study published in the September 15, 2008 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases.
  6. Launch contest
  7. Use your website
    • Post latest info
    • Podcasts
  8. TV/ radio/other
    • Ask producers of radio call-in shows and television public affairs shows to feature appropriate antibiotic use activities; offer to provide background information on antibiotic resistance, sample questions and answers, and spokesperson to interview.
    • Contact local television stations and ask them to run public service announcements (PSAs) on appropriate antibiotic use.
    • Take advantage of the new social media- i.e. blogs

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Step 3: Evaluate

Track and Analyze Media Coverage

Scan newspapers and monitor radio and television programs to track your program coverage.

  • How many articles, editorials, or letters have been published by the newspapers you contacted?
  • How often has a radio station used the live announcer copy you sent?
  • How many newsletters published an article about the GSW?
  • How many people visited your website during the GSW? How many people downloaded materials from your website during the GSW?

See also: Get Smart Week Document: Step 5: Evaluate Activities

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