Effective public health ads/PSAs require clear, actionable, steps combined with credible stories from ‘the right messengers’

January 19, 2021 — Kaiser Health News: “[P]ublic health advertising often falls short because it incites people’s worst fears rather than providing clear steps viewers can take to save lives…To address public health issues, marketers often use images of diseased lungs to discourage smokers or the bloody aftermath of car crashes to prevent drunken driving. But these can provoke ‘defensive responses’ that may be avoided by giving people ways to take action…[Jay Winsten, a Harvard University scientist who spearheaded the U.S. designated-driver campaign to combat drunken driving and serves on the board of advisers of the Ad Council’s $50 million covid vaccine campaign, says] ‘People remember stories more than they do someone simply lecturing at them.’ Still, Winsten emphasized the importance of including actionable steps…Now health agencies are consumed by the coronavirus pandemic and are trying to craft messages that cut through politically charged discourse and get the public to adopt safety measures such as wearing masks, staying physically distanced and getting vaccinated…’It needs the right messengers: well-known individuals who have high credibility within specific population groups that currently are hesitant about taking the vaccine,’ Winsten said.”
Read the Kaiser Health News article by Eric Berger