Wheeling Walks Training Manual

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Introduction:
Specifics of the WHEELING WALKS Eight-Week Media-Based Campaign

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Specifics of the WHEELING WALKS Eight-Week Media-Based Campaign

The intensive eight-week campaign involved: (1) purchase of television, radio, and newspaper ads, (2) public relations activities to attract media coverage, thus reinforcing the campaign message, (3) other public health activities to offer social support and help effect a change in the social norm, and (4) establishing mechanisms for enduring policy and environmental changes.

1. Television, radio, and print ads. The number needed to be sufficient to enable at least 85% of the targeted adults in Wheeling to see the ads repeatedly in the eight-week period. We bought and ran:

  • 683 thirty-second paid TV advertisements on local network-affiliated stations (5,100 gross rating points) and1,164 thirty-second paid TV advertisements on local cable stations,
  • 1,988 sixty-second paid radio ads on local stations (3,450 gross rating points),
  • 28 eighth-page newspaper ads in local newspapers.

2. Public relations activities to attract free television, radio, and newspaper coverage (news stories, interviews, talk shows, promotions, etc.) as a means of reinforcing the campaign message. These included:

  • In WEEK 1--a campaign kickoff press conference.
  • In WEEK 3--a press conference of prominent physicians urging the community to walk.
  • In WEEK 4--a mid-campaign press event giving an update on campaign?s progress.
  • In WEEK 6--the Mayor?s Walking Cup, a 30 minute noon-time walk to demonstrate that walking can fit into a busy schedule.
  • In WEEK 7--promotion of participation in the ?walking? division of the Ogden 20K Distance Classic, the premier athletic event in Wheeling for the past 30 years.
  • In WEEK 8--a campaign finale press conference.

All events were open to the public. Special invitations were sent to the mayor; financial sponsors; local and state health department representatives; community leaders; representatives of minority communities; and local, state, and national government officials. Special efforts were made to ensure that TV, radio, and newspaper reporterswere present and covering each event.

3. Public health activities provided for social support, helped effect a change in social norm, and provide additional opportunities for media exposure. These included:

    Worksite Wellness Walking Challenge--A four-week Worksite Wellness Walking Challenge held throughout the community with 40 worksites participating. Registered participants submitted weekly logs of minutes walked to the local worksite campaign coordinator.

    Physician ?Prescriptions for Walking?--The Ohio County (Wheeling) Medical Society agreed to participate in this intervention. Physicians were given ?walking prescription? pads and asked to write prescriptions for their patients to walk 30 minutes or more on almost every day, as appropriate to the health status of the patient.

    United Way-type thermometer?Residents enrolled in the campaign and submit weekly walking logs (via phone, website, etc.). The minutes were converted to miles (20 minutes was considered one mile), totaled, and displayed on a United Way-type campaign thermometer located in the Wheeling Waterfront Park. Our goal was to log 25,000 miles for the 8-week campaign. A local sponsor paid to have the thermometer displayed weekly on the evening news.

    Mayor?s Walking Cup --During week six, a 30 minute Mayor?s Walking Cup was held on the Wheeling Riverfront Trail. One goal for this activity was the development of social support for walking and to demonstrate that moderate intensity walking can fit into a busy lifestyle. A local industry sponsored the event.

    Campaign website--The local coordinator worked with a community volunteer who designed and maintained the campaign website. The website enabled community members to find out about the overall campaign, learn about local walking events, read about celebrity endorsements of the campaign, submit their minutes walked, and much more. The website operate during the entire campaign and continues today (wheelingwalks.org).

    Weekly media specials--The principal investigator wrote a weekly column on walking for the Sunday edition of the local newspaper, which has a regional subscription of 43,000. The article was placed on the front page of the regional section and was accompanied by a picture. The Wheeling television station broadcasted weekly educational features on walking.

    Other programs?Seven local health professionals were trained to give presentations about walking that emphasized fitness and health benefits. Speakers addressed local residents in worksites, civic groups, and churches. Approximately 1,000 community residents were reached by the volunteers. In addition, church ministers were recruited to place information about the health benefits of walking in church bulletins.

4. Policy and environmental changes began to be initiated. These occur over years, not weeks or months. As of this update in 2009, the Ohio Valley has continued to meet on a monthy basis since 2002 to promote the walkability of the community.

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