Communications Essays on Smoking Awareness Campaign

Talib: Strategies and Tactics Used

The campaign project had significant impacts in building my competence at planning PR activities and in helping me enhance my teamwork and engagement skills. My key roles in the project were mainly on the situational analyses, in which I had to come up with various pieces of information on smoking prevalence across the world including its prevalence rates and impacts on the general population. The objective of this situational analysis was to provide a background and sufficient rationale for the campaign. I also came up with some of the smart objectives for the project. One of the key lessons I learned during this planning stage was that every planning activity requires meticulous consideration of all facts. A rather simple concept can be a cause of greater failure in the final stages of the project.

While working on the tactics and strategies for the campaign, I realized that no single tactic could be wholly efficient in delivering all the expected outcomes in a campaign. For instance, I felt that holding a marathon as a campaign for smoking awareness and cessation could contribute to persuasion. However, when I conducted some research on past events and their efficiency in delivering campaign expectations, I realized that no single tactic has ever been successful on its own. The decision to use several tactics to accomplish the goals of the campaign was, therefore, founded on this principle. Additionally, I realized that different tactics boosted the efficiency of other tactics. For instance, the social media campaigns helped significantly in raising awareness not only about smoking but also about the event that we were planning for smoking awareness.

I can deduce that working on the project has been enlightening. Having to come up with an idea for a campaign and pushing the idea through to success can be challenging and I am grateful that we were able to conclude. On teamwork, I can say that sometimes, working alone, especially where a PR activity is most likely to affect many people, is not as effective as working as a team. A team comes with diverse ideas that not only promote creativity but also foster efficiency and accuracy in decision making. For instance, when making decisions regarding the tactics to use, I was convinced that holding the events would be sufficient for accomplishing the campaign objectives. I am certain that in future, I will be able to coordinate stronger PR teams that will deliver optimum outputs without incurring excess costs in events planning and execution. I have also learned the power of social media in building communities to fight for a specific cause.

Hind Risk Register and Evaluation

I learned a lot by working on the project. During the campaign planning and reporting processes, I worked on the risk register, as well as the evaluation of the campaign. Throughout these sections, I learned interesting lessons about the role of teams and the importance of risk management in every project. Initially, I believed that risk management was required in projects that entailed actual activity and that a PR-related project was aimed at eliminating risks. It was, therefore, enlightening to note that even in a PR project, risk management planning is mandatory. Developing the risk register was also an informative project as I came to understand the different attributes that define risk. For instance, I came to understand that a particular element can be both a risk and an advantage to a project. For instance, I always thought that finances are a support system for any project but I realized that finances could also be a source of risk for a project.

The risk register was developed based on an extract from a framework that was used in a past study. Through the register, specific elements of risks such as risk description, the impacts of the risk, the probability of occurrence, and the mitigation measures were raised. This enabled me to understand that conducting a risk assessment does not end with the identification of risks. Rather, mitigation measures have to be put in place to ensure that the risk does not occur. Mitigation measures reduce the probability of occurrence of the risk and subsequently the potential impacts of that risk. I developed a risk register that would be used to record risks throughout the campaign planning and execution process, and two risks were identified and recorded. The identified risks included financial risk and low turnouts during the events. On the dates that the risks were reported, low turnout was categorized as a medium probability and high impact event due to absence of confirmed event attendees and the probability of communication failure in case of low turnout.

Another section that I worked on during the campaign was the evaluation process. In planning for the evaluation, I had to identify the key performance indicators in relation to our objectives for the campaigns. Accordingly, I decided to use social media as a tool for collecting information on the impacts of the campaigns on the targeted populations. The rationale behind social media use in this area was that the social media already had communities of campaign participants, which made it easy to collect information regarding the campaign over short time duration and with minimal resources. When doing this, I learned that social media could be a great tool for building an organizational reputation over a short period unless used ineffectively.

Introduction

Smoking causes some of the most serious health conditions across the world. According to a report by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (2018), smoking results in high financial and social costs among smokers and their families. More than 174,000 women die each year as a result of smoking-related health complications. The United Arab Emirates has one of the highest prevalence rates for smoking in the region. Based on self reports, approximately 36% of men and 3% of women in the UAE are smokers. However, tests conducted on a representative population showed that more than 42% of men and 9% of women were positive for nicotine. These statistics are sufficient evidence for the need to create awareness about the dangers of smoking and subsequently lead smokers towards cessation. The smoking awareness campaign was, therefore, designed with the objective of not only creating awareness but also using pictures and words to influence smokers to cease smoking.

Situation analysis

As at 2015, over 1.1 billion people across the world were cigarette smokers. More males were also reported to be smoking within the year, indicating a gendered perspective to cigarette smoking. The prevalence of smoking varied across different countries with the highest prevalence appearing in Africa and the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region. The WHO describes tobacco as the only legal drug that kills even when used exactly according to the manufacturer’s instruction. Al-Houqani (20180 provides a detailed analysis of the smoking prevalence rates in the emirate. The UAE, which comprises of 7 countries has a healthcare system which is comparable to the U.S and to other western countries. However, the country reported the highest number of chronic diseases in 2015, with cardiovascular diseases comprising of almost 35% of all the deaths in the country. The second largest cause of death in the country was lung cancer coupled with other cancers such as tracheal and bronchial cancer. These cancers contributed more than 14% of all the deaths in the emirate. The high number of deaths has been attributed to tobacco use among the nationals, which is approximated at 24% in men and 0.8% in women. 28% of all the men who smoke in the emirate are between 30-39 years and constitute of 31.4% of expatriate men and 10.7% of expatriate women. Among the nationals of the UAE, the smoking rates are highest among individuals between 20 and 29 years of age (29%) (Al-Houqani, 2018). The smoking prevalence in the UAE is an indication of the need for smoking awareness creation and campaigns towards smoking cessation in the UAE.

Figure 1: Smoking prevalence by age and gender

 

(Source: Statista, 2018)

Campaign Objectives

Through the campaign, there were two major objectives, namely:

  • To create awareness of the prevalence and dangers of smoking.
  • To influence as many participants as possible to undergo smoking cessation training and subsequently match them with counselors.

The key outcome of the campaign was to reduce the number of smokers by influencing at least five people a day, to crush their cigarettes and pursue healthier lifestyles.

Figure 2: Crush the cigar or remain a slave campaign

 

 

Target Audience

The target audience for the campaign consisted of smokers and youths who are vulnerable to peer influence towards smoking. The campaign was conducted in the UAE although the target population comprised of people from all over the world as the UAE comprises of expatriates as well as UAE nationals. In order to depict this message clearly, the audience was shown pictures that depicted people smoking and with captions on the dangers of smoking.

Figure 3: The young as the target audience: Every cigarette rots you from the inside out

(Source: Gayle, 2014)

Strategy

The strategy involved the use of a survey, various social media activities and an event for the smoking awareness campaign. The surveys were conducted through social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter. The objective was to find out from willing participants how much they knew about the risks of smoking and their willingness to participate in smoking cessation campaigns. A total of 25 survey responses were received, with more than half of the respondents indicating that they were smokers and they would have liked to know more about the dangers of smoking. The scheduled event was a marathon to be run in the heart of the city of Abu Dhabi, and would be organized by 20 students from the campus, who would coordinate with other participants met via social media. A total of 550 participants indicated the interested to participate but less than 200 turned up during the actual marathon.

Tactics

In this particular campaign, the key tactics used included media relations, events, and social media. Each of these outlets was used to communicate the campaign message through graphic images and repetitive messaging. The objective of repetition in PR was aligned with the argument presented by Sundar, Kardes, & Wright (2015) that repetition helps to achieve recognition. In advertising, a repetitive image of a product and specific messages are used to create brand awareness. In the campaign, repetitive graphic images depicting the negative impacts of smoking were presented across all the mentioned media outlets to create a negative impression of smoking on the minds of the consumers. Marathon events were conducted over three consecutive days in different cities of the UAE.

Campaign Timelines

The campaign was planned and conducted in six months from 1 May 2018 to 31 October 2018. The actual campaign ran for one week from 8th to 14th October 2018. The table below provides a breakdown of the timelines in campaign planning and execution.

Activity Start Date End date
Research – including a situational analysis and background information search. 1st September 2018 7th September 2018
Setting the campaign objectives 8th September 2018 13th September 2018
Identification and contact of key stakeholders 14th September 2018 24th September 2014
Campaign planning, resource identification, and collection 25th September 2018 6th October 2018
Events and social media campaign 8th October 2018 14th October 2018
Reporting and closure 15th October 2018 31st October 2018

Risk register

A risk assessment was conducted for the campaign during the planning process. The table below shows a summary of the identified risk areas and their potential impacts on the campaign. The risk register was developed based on the framework discussed by Bullock, Greer, and O’Toole Jr (2018), which emphasizes the essence of risk probability and impact analysis on risk mitigation planning.

ID. Date raised Description likelihood impact Action plan Status
1. 16th September Low turnout during events Medium High To begin the campaign with the social media messages and create awareness of the events. Closed
2. 28th September Low funds availability low High To reach out to a humanitarian organization that advocates for smoking cessation. Closed

Budget

The total budget for the campaign was USD 3,500. 1750 USD went to the events due to the need for public address systems, sufficient grounds for the event activities, entertainment, and food. A total of 950 USD went to media relations since the campaign was televised across three television stations. Another USD 600 went to stakeholder management while the remaining $ 200 went to logistics and miscellaneous costs.

Evaluation plan

The evaluation plan for the campaign was based on the social media campaign tactic. The objective of the evaluation plan was to determine the impacts of social media, media relations, and the events campaigns on the targeted audience. Through the campaigns, we focused on the 25 initial participants as our point of reference for the impacts of the campaign. Over the days of the campaign, we continuously conducted surveys to determine how many of them were willing to begin the process of smoking cessation. The chart below shows the progress in terms of the number of people who showed willingness to cease smoking.

References

Al-Houqani, M., Leinberger-Jabali, A., Al Naeemi, A., Al Junaibi, A., Al Zaabi, E., Oumeziane, N. et al. (2018). Patterns of tobacco use in the United Arab Emirates healthy future (UAEHFS) pilot study. PLoS One, 13(5). Retrieved from journals.plos.org/plosone/article/file?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0198119&type=printable

Bullock, J.B., Greer, R.A. & O’Toole Jr, L.J. (2018). Managing risks in public organizations: A conceptual foundation and research agenda. Perspectives on Public Management and Governance, gvx016. Retrieved from academic.oup.com/ppmg/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/ppmgov/gvx016/4818248?redirectedFrom=PDF

Gayle, D. (2014, December 29). Graphic anti-smoking advert featuring father lighting a roll-up made of rotting flesh is unveiled as report aims to highlight lesser-known consequences of the habit. Daily Mail. Retrieved from www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2889691/Graphic-anti-smoking-advert-featuring-father-lighting-roll-rotting-flesh-unveiled-report-aims-highlight-lesser-known-consequences-habit.html

Statista (2018). Percentage of adults in the U.S. who were current cigarette smokers as of 2016, by age and gender. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/673619/smoking-prevalence-among-men-us-by-age/

Sundar, A.R., Kardes, F.R. & Wright, S.A. (2015). The influence of repetitive health messages and sensitivity to fluency on the truth effect in advertising. Journal of Advertising, 44(4), 375-387. Retrieved from www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00913367.2015.1045154

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (2017). Health awareness campaigns: Quit smoking. U.S Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved from www.womenshealth.va.gov/WOMENSHEALTH/smoking.asp

WHO (2018). WHO global report on trends in tobacco smoking 2000-2025 – First edition. World Health Organization. Retrieved from www.who.int/tobacco/publications/surveillance/reportontrendstobaccosmoking/en/