How to Promote Your Program

 

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You have a good program that you want to get out to your special population. Unless the group knows about you and these resources, they will not know how to take advantage of them. What you need now is a good promotional effort!

When trying to make choices about how to reach people, remember the following principles.

 

PERSONALIZE YOUR APPROACH WITH CREDIBLE GROUPS AND INDIVIDUALS

 

  • Invitations to participate in programs are often more successful when they are conducted in a personalized manner and are delivered on a one-to-one basis.
  • Information from a source that is already known and respected within the community will be much more credible than impersonal messages from outside the community.
  • Identify credible members in the community. Review your needs assessment and community assessment data to find out which prominent and informal people could be spokespersons.
  • Use a person-to-person approach when feasible and use respected individuals from the target group to recruit others as volunteers or program participants.
  • Get respected individuals involved in your Speaker’s Bureau and in public forums or health fairs or other outreach and program activities. Use these same influential people in your radio and TV public service announcements (PSAs) and as spokespersons quoted in news releases.
  • Find representatives of your special population who are successfully managing their arthritis and feature them in newspaper articles and/or recruit them to share their experiences as a member of your Speaker’s Bureau or as a program volunteer.

 

NETWORK WITH COMMUNITY AGENCIES

 

  • Re-examine your community profile and needs assessment data to find out which sites, agencies and businesses are frequently used by the targeted group.
  • Recruit the help of these community organizations in promoting your services and reinforcing your educational messages, e.g., by helping in distribution of culturally relevant brochures.
  • Involve youth and community groups in your out- reach efforts.  For example, you can involve students at local schools and colleges in an art contest to develop posters that could be used to advertise your programs. Consider public health or social work students who might be interested in a field placement to help with outreach efforts into the target community.

 

UTILIZE MULTIPLE APPROACHES

 

Multiple focused activities are often likely to be more effective than a single general program.  Use personal contact (letter, telephone, etc.), advertising (TV, radio, PSAs) and/or publicity (news coverage).  For example, during one health promotion project in a small Hispanic community in Texas, the following combination of health promotion activities was most effective:

  • Insert in area newspapers
  • Television role models presented on local Spanish cable channels as part of a local news or public affairs program
  • News stories in various local media outlets, featuring people who had made significant changes in health behaviors
  • Spanish newspapers carried role model stories
  • A local AM/FM radio station aired weekly role model testimonials
  • Community volunteers were asked to contact other persons and tell them about the upcoming media stories and also to encourage and reinforce health behavior changes such as dieting, exercise and changes in use of alcohol and smoking

 

USE MEDIA OUTLETS

 

  • Identify where your target group obtains health information and from what media sources. Media sources are available from the local Junior Leagues, the United Way and Community Action Agencies.
  • Select the most influential media channel for getting out information about your organization and services exist.
  • Ask media representatives to serve on your advisory committee and/or ask for their input on what issues are of primary concern and what approaches are most effective. These same representatives should be asked to serve as your liaison with media and follow-up with a phone call whenever you send out a release.
  • Use culturally relevant materials for distribution to these media, such as CDC’s Spanish Physical Activity Campaign.  For Hispanic media, translate news releases and PSAs into Spanish before sending them out. When in doubt about what language to use or if the group’s language preferences are mixed, use bilingual materials. See Examples of Potential Media Ideas.
  • Don’t oversell in your public education efforts.  For instance, before advertising your phone number in Spanish PSAs, make sure that there will be a bilingual person available to answer questions if a Spanish- speaking person calls for information. Have culturally relevant materials and programs available before announcing that you are a source of help.

 

EXAMPLES OF POTENTIAL MEDIA IDEAS


  • Use Spanish –language TV stations or Spanish-language programming on English stations.
  • Include Hispanic or African American radio stations, minority magazines and newspapers or columns in English papers and other print and electronic media.
  • Send PSAs to radio and TV stations. Ask the radio station to tape a series of statements or announcements by community leaders.
  • Ask TV stations to videotape or film statements by your key community representatives.
  • Get prominent minority volunteers to appear on locally produced talk shows.   
  • Obtain newspaper coverage with news stories, feature stories, columnists, prepared editorials and photographs.
  • Include weekly papers and shopping guides.
  • Distribute fliers to bilingual or bicultural health professionals
  • Post billboards, bus or subway cards to reach those who use mass transportation.
  • Provide displays/posters for frequently used sites, such as markets, laundromats, clinics, community centers, churches and housing projects.
  • Provide fact sheets or leaflets for placement in grocery bags or distribution at churches, local businesses, schools, etc.

 

LEVERAGE COMMUNITY EVENTS


Explore co-sponsoring or participating in community events to increase the visibility of your organization and of the AF Life Improvement Series Programs. Think about where you could place AF Life Improvement Series Programs or promotional flyers about the programs to raise awareness.  Examples include:

 

  • Community arts and crafts shows
  • Ethnic holiday festivals
  • Local church bazaars
  • Municipal street fairs
  • Housing projects
  • Community centers or other agencies that have an ongoing education program that would be willing to co-sponsor an arthritis public forum or educational class series or exercise class
  • Local music or theater groups that might be willing to combine their entertainment with an arthritis presentation

 

REMEMBER CULTURAL CONSIDERATIONS


Establish rapport with your target population by showing recognition and appreciation for the group’s cultural heritage:

 

  • Coordinate an open house/health fair co-sponsored by a respected agency already working with the group and provide appropriate ethnic foods, decorations/posters/artwork and music representative of the group.  Make sure the site is accessible to persons with disabilities.
  • Coordinate an event to celebrate an ethnic holiday such as Mexico’s Independence Day. Consider combining it with common leisure activities, such as bingo and use the opportunity to promote the AF programs.
  • When trying to recruit people to an educational and/or self-management program, attract them by first giving them something they need or want. For instance, you might attract a group by providing a free meal and then give joint protection tips related to meal planning.
  • Utilize any unique communication channels that exist within the population. Foe example, develop a presence at district dinners and tribal fairs on Native American reservations.

 

RECRUIT REPRESENTATIVES OF THE TARGETED GROUP TO BE PROGRAM VOLUNTEERS


Remember that a personal invitation to volunteers by a respected member of the targeted community will be more effective than a general appeal. To get volunteers, convey the messages:

 

  • In helping others, you can help yourself.
  • What they know and what they can do are valuable assets needed by the community.
  • Their contributions are appreciated.

 

In addition, it is important to:

 

  • Be sensitive to your organization’s attitudes about the target group’s involvement. Patronizing attitudes or any hint of tokenism will be seen as evidence of lack of commitment.
  • Allow volunteers flexible time, commitment and activity level wherever possible.
  • Be sure that the person can afford to volunteer. Provide reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses and child care arrangements.
  • Strengthen motivation for volunteering by providing proper training and placement and by providing recognition and appreciation for time and effort with certificates, banquets, etc.
  • Understand that you might need to involve other family members in the recruitment effort and you may not be able to get a firm commitment until the family is consulted.
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