Can Donated Media Placements Reach Intended Audiences?

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Abstract

Donated media placements for public service announcements (PSAs) can be difficult to secure, and may not always reach intended audiences. Strategies used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Screen for Life: National Colorectal Cancer Action Campaign (SFL) to obtain donated media placements include producing a diverse mix of high-quality PSAs, co-branding with state and tribal health agencies, securing celebrity involvement, monitoring media trends to identify new distribution opportunities, and strategically timing the release of PSAs. To investigate open-ended recall of PSAs promoting colorectal cancer screening, CDC conducted 12 focus groups in three U.S. cities with men and women either nearing age 50 years, when screening is recommended to begin, or aged 50-75 years who were not in compliance with screening guidelines. In most focus groups, multiple participants recalled exposure to PSAs promoting colorectal cancer screening, and most of these individuals reported having seen SFL PSAs on television, in transit stations, or on the sides of public buses. Some participants reported exposure to SFL PSAs without prompting from the moderator, as they explained how they learned about the disease. Several participants reported learning key campaign messages from PSAs, including that colorectal cancer screening should begin at age 50 years and screening can find polyps so they can be removed before becoming cancerous. Donated media placements can reach and educate mass audiences, including millions of U.S. adults who have not been screened appropriately for colorectal cancer.

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