Using Publicity to Enhance the Effectiveness of a Child Obesity Prevention Program
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As an element of the promotion mix within the broader marketing mix, publicity has the potential to be of considerable value to social marketing programs because of its relatively low cost, the ability to target specific geographical areas, and the legitimacy of being represented by a third party. This chapter examines the role of publicity in achieving the intervention aims of a child obesity prevention program that has been implemented in South Australia. Due to the adverse physical and psychological outcomes of obesity, maintaining a healthy weight is an important element of children’s quality of life. The OPAL (Obesity Prevention and Lifestyle) program is a community-based public health initiative that operates in both metropolitan and regional locations. The evaluation of the campaign involves the comparison of matched intervention and control sites. The use of publicity enables OPAL program staff to promote healthy lifestyle messages within the intervention areas with minimal contamination of the control sites. In total, 377 media stories were identified over the 4-year evaluation period, of which 84 % were assessed to be favorable, 14 % neutral, and 2 % unfavorable. A telephone survey of 1380 South Australians (78 % of whom resided in intervention areas) found that 40 % reported reading about OPAL in newspapers and 7 % had heard about OPAL in discussions on the radio. The OPAL program was therefore successful in obtaining favorable media coverage which reached a substantial proportion of the target population.
Innovations in Social Marketing and Public Health Communication: Improving the Quality of Life for Individuals and Communities