How Campaigns Work
Understanding the campaign process
The model below explains the four main components of the campaign process: audience analysis, message development, message delivery, and evaluation. The arrows between components and the audience indicate the importance of evaluating audience reaction and feedback related to how accurately your choices reflect audience needs.
Step 1: Audience analysis
Defining and analyzing your target audience is critical in determining the direction, tone, and complexity of your messages. Identifying target demographics such as age range, occupation, and work experience is important, as is a good understanding of the audience's attitudes and knowledge about safety. Make sure to consider existing circumstances surrounding your campaign and potential barriers that may hinder efforts or create unnecessary difficulties. Types of questions that can help you identify barriers include:
- Could we pass a Joint Commission Inspection?
- Is the facility going through reorganization?
- Is it National Nurses Week?
Gather information about your audience and their needs through surveys, employee records, staff meetings, or one-on-one discussions. With the audience information gathered, you are prepared to develop the campaign messages.
Step 2: Message development
A strong message that resonates with the audience is a powerful hook in influencing behavior. Relative risk, prevention strategies, and treatment options are common and effective messages in occupational health. Each message, however, must be chosen to fit the situation. For instance, prevention strategies won't work with a young workforce that is not aware of the high frequency of sticks injuries or risk. Keep your messages clear and simple and repeat them frequently.
Different subgroups may need different messages (such as surgeons and scrub techs). If you determine that you need different messages for subgroups, be sure to develop the messages simultaneously to avoid contradictions and confusion. Creative messages almost always attract more attention. Make sure, however, to check back with your audience to test creative messages. This way you will verify whether your creative concepts truly achieve your campaign objectives.
The typical campaign is one month long. A good strategy is to introduce a new blitz every week with a new message. Here's a recommended schedule of weekly blitz messages:
Week 1: RISK AWARENESS - Focus on the actual risk of experiencing a sharps injury for operating room personnel.
Week 2: PASSING & LOADING PRACTICES - Address the issue of passing and loading sharps devices. Research shows that most injuries occur during these two practices.
Week 3: NEUTRAL ZONE - Emphasize the implementation and use of a neutral zone, a safety technique used to reduce sharps injuries during direct hand-to-hand passing of contaminated sharps.
Week 4: SAFER SHARPS USE - Concentrate on using safer sharps devices.
Step 3: Message delivery
Effective message delivery depends on a good strategic dissemination plan. Use a variety of channels. Deliver the same message in all materials used in all channels and remember that frequent repetition embeds the message in the audience's memory.
CHANNELS. Depending on the audience, there may be many message channels available to you including staff meetings, organizational intranet, facility displays, and internal mailings. The more channels you use, the more likely you are to reach your audience. Each channel has its own strengths and weaknesses. Determine which ones are appropriate for both the issue and the audience.
MATERIALS. Different materials in different sizes can also help attract attention in different channels. In development of the STOP STICKS campaign, NIOSH partners successfully used newsletters, posters, paycheck stuffers, presentations, displays, and promotional items to deliver the blitz messages.
REPETITION. Remember to deliver your messages frequently. Repetition is essential to embedding campaign messages.
Step 4: Evaluation
EVALUATING THE RIGHT INFORMATION. Prior to starting any campaign, develop a coherent and systematic evaluation. Measuring exposure, understanding, and persuasiveness of campaign messages is essential to knowing if the effort worked. Imagine disseminating a pre- and post-knowledge test, analyzing the data, and finding no change. You assume the campaign was ineffective. But exposure data might tell you that your audience didn't see or hear your messages and, consequently, couldn't learn from them. First you need to determine whether people saw your messages. This will tell you whether you used the right information channels.
THINGS TO EVALUATE. Next, look for changes in awareness, knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, and motivations. Also, measure campaign feedback. What did your audience like and dislike about the campaign? This will show you how to improve future campaigns.
EVALUATION CHALLENGES. In addition to knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors, many people want to measure injury reduction, our public health goal. Injury reduction is, however, a difficult thing to measure because of reporting practices and campaign length. For example, increasing awareness often leads to increased reporting of injuries. The reported increase in injuries may be misleading as it may suggest an actual increase in injuries, when really the results demonstrate improved reporting. Research also shows that safety campaigns must be sustained over long periods to show reliable injury reduction. A short campaign, such as STOP STICKS, may not be long enough to show injury reduction impact.
MEASURING CHANGE. Measurement of knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors is often done with pre- and post-intervention tests or questionnaires. Pre-tests are used to gather baseline data before the communication blitz and post-tests gather data after the intervention. Focus groups and other interview methods can also be used especially to gather participant feedback. Observation of participant behavior is a more objective measure than questionnaires.
CHOOSING A MEASURE. Evaluation does not have to be a costly or time-consuming process if it is planned well. Consider the following when deciding which methods of data collection you want to use:
- Use resources already available
- Select methods that will help answer your research questions
- Economize your evaluation activities by conducting evaluation through electronic systems or at existing events such as scheduled meetings
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