Wheeling Walks Training Manual

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Chapter 7:
Planning and Delivery of Public Health Events:
The Role and Importance of Media Events
Planning the Public Health Events
Involving Many Community Sectors

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The Role and Importance of Media Events

We bought advertising.  We bought advertising just like the big boys.  Advertising sells Chryslers.  Advertising sells Big Macs.  Advertising sells 1% and skim milk.  And we have found that advertising sells walking. 

The paid ads, however, are supplemented with media events that you will plan for the campaign.  The purpose of the media events is to further to draw attention to your message--the message in the ads--moderate intensity walking, 30 minutes, almost every day.

The media events involve many community sectors and provide a special means for you to give other important media outlets in the community--TV, radio, and newspaper reporters, talk show hosts, special feature planners, etc.--an opportunity to be involved with the campaign by giving them specific events to cover.  The events communicate the same message but in a different way and thus reach other/additional sectors of their audience. 

NOTE

    -Design your media events for the press and make them convenient for media coverage. 

    -Events that can be easily covered by the local media provide free advertising for the campaign and hopefully more participants.

    -The type and number of public health events in a campaign depends primarily on:

    • financial resources
    • available staff and volunteer time, and
    • the characteristics of the community.

    -No single event is appropriate for every community.  Therefore, be creative and develop events that appeal to your specific community. 

 

Choosing Events

Let’s assume that the most vital part of the campaign, the media buy, is in place.  Now you must make sure the campaign is dynamic and exciting.  How do you choose events?

You should have one media event a week.  This can be a press conference, a walk, an event, a speaker, an information program, an opening of a trail, an announcement, or a guest.  What ever is planned, be sure it is planned for the camera.

This is where the WHEELING WALKS model deviates from traditional programming.  Events should be chosen for their ability to bring a TV camera.  The TV camera normally will give you 15-20 minutes at your event, which, if you are lucky, will be 1- 2 minutes on the newscast.  In addition, where TV cameras go, radio stations and newspapers tend to follow. 

During the 2001 campaign in Wheeling, we exceeded our own expectations with earned media (press coverage at events that end up reported in the media) and received tremendous exposure of our activities and events. 

Because the media is with you at your event for a small amount of time, the events you choose should be:

  • Short - no more than an hour in length
  • Designed to have the maximum amount of people and “show” possible.
  • Emphasize one or two major points.
  • More than one key dimension, in case the TV crew, for example, arrive late.

Some might call this “playing to the camera”.  However, “playing to the camera”--getting your message to local citizens--is important to the success of your campaign.

 

Tips for Planning an Event Suitable for Media Coverage

A fun-filled lively program is the premise for a great press event.

  • Have a lot of enthusiastic, active (preferably walking) people in the shot. 
  • Use balloons, color, banners, and music.
  • Have campaign spokespeople available for interviews when the media is ready for them - not the other way around.
  • Don’t make the media wait.  The media corporation, the camera people, the writers, and photographers are our biggest and most important allies in delivering the message.

In the traditional approach, the success of most health promotion events is evaluated without consideration of media coverage.  In other words, the amount of media coverage is a by-product of an event, not a direct programmatic element.  Traditionally, the length of the event is less important.  However, with a media campaign, the dynamic is to enhance the amount of media the event will get.  This is because the media coverage is a greater community influence than the event itself.  Media coverage gives the campaign credibility and prestige and creates a “buzz” in the community.  The more people see and hear about the campaign, the more likely they are to want to find out more about it, and to ultimately get involved.

Planning the Public Health Events

Events must be accessible, safe and enjoyable. Modern life has made it easy to lead a sedentary lifestyle. Therefore, your public walking events must provide opportunities for beginners, groups, and media coverage. Walking events provide social support, an opportunity to enhance personal walking skill (tips can be distributed on such topics as “How to Walk Better” and “Avoiding Injury”), and a wonderful target for a photographer or TV cameras.

  • Schedule events where walking is convenient and easily accessible.  Look at your community and identify appropriate walking locations.  The locations should be safe, be easily accessible and encourage walking. Some of the best walk locations are parks, cemeteries, schools, civic centers or arenas.   Be sure to schedule walk locations several weeks before the event.  This way a complete Calendar of Events can be distributed at the beginning of the campaign. (See Appendix 4A for a WHEELING WALKS Calendar of Events.) 
     
  • Make events fun.  Enjoyable events help participants get started and keep motivated. 
     
  • Provide opportunities for beginners.  If the events are convenient, safe and easy, sedentary people are more likely to try walking for one day or one event.
     
  • Provide opportunities for families to walk. A family-oriented walk could help eliminate the--"It takes time away from my family”--barrier to walking.

Make events convenient for media coverage.  Events that can be easily covered by the local media will provide free advertising for the campaign and hopefully more participants.

The type and number of public health events in a campaign depends primarily on:

  • financial resources
  • available staff and volunteer time, and
  • the characteristics of the community.

No single event is appropriate for every community.  Therefore, be creative and develop events that appeal to your specific community. 

Involving Many Community Sectors

Among the groups you will want to involve in Campaign events are:

    1. Public Officials
    2. Celebrities
    3. Physicians  (additional details in Chapter 9)
    4. Churches/Faith-based Organizations  (additional details in Chapter 11)
    5. Medical facilities
    6. Walking/Trail Clubs
    7. Malls
    8. Families / Intergenerational activities

The following pages provide detail of what was involved in planning and implementing activities involving these groups.  Both activity description and actual documents that we developed and used are included.

Reviewing these, it is clear that the events routinely involves the following key elements:

1.  Meticulous attention to the details of time and place (confirmed in writing in advance).

    -no one wants to be surprised.
    -advanced planning alone will account for much of the success of the event.

2.  Helpers--recruit volunteers for each specific event (see Chapter 6).

3.  Plans for making it a merry event.

4.  Specific written invitations.

5.  A specific written agenda for the event to share with all involved so they can:

    a. know what is happening when and their role in it
    b. fully feel they a part of the event / make it their own / share responsibility for its success

6.  An advance press release

7.  A press packet for each event --to be distributed both in advance and on the spot --to press and important folks that
    attend.

8.  Enthusiastic coordination of the event.

9.  If speaker is involved, brief them before the event and do all you can to make things easy for her/him.  (Be sure they
     have “talking points” in advance, or, if necessary, on the spot.

10. “Thank you” notes to any and all following the event.

Again, be creative, utilize community resources, and above all, make it fun for all (even though it is mighty hard work for the coordinator)

 

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