Media in Prevention – Successful advertising for more safety and health at work
Please find below a summary of thoughts and links explaning and showing the possible power of media in your prevention work.
If you have question please do not hesitate to contact us. Please note that, for the moment, these texts are provided in english only.
1. Those who have a message, need media
What we are interested in today are the various new possibilities of modern audiovisual media, specifically those made available by the virtual online world. Films and multimedia applications are indeed an important instrument in occupational safety. No matter if it is about risk awareness or complex safety issues – moving images and interactive media support the knowledge transfer and help to raise awareness.
How can we use these new media as best as possible for a successful prevention? The Canadian communication scientist and philosopher Marshall McLuhan said that “the medium is the message”. However, the application of new media guarantees by no means that the messages are understood or internalised. In a single sentence, Konrad Lorenz has brought this to the point: “Said is not heard, heard is not understood, understood is not agreed, agreed is not done, done is not properly done.”
The message has to be received. But how? "Filmed texts" are not much more than texts. Usually, top-to-bottom strategies don't reach the persons concerned. Use short films instead, more intense, shorter and at eye level with the target group.
Conclusion: Prevention does not work without the use of media. However, this has to happen in the right way.
2. Do good and talk about it
Actually, this well-known motto of public relations experts is directed at those target groups that are in need of this hint.
We as prevention experts in the field of occupational safety and health know that we do the right thing. And if we talk about it, this is not to polish up our image. The reason why we need to think about how to convey contents on the issue occupational safety and health is rather because of a problem which we all don’t only know from the field of prevention:
People actually know what they ought to do for which reason but they just don’t do it. They are often – more or less - slow and comfortable, distractable and defiant. They are attached to their routines and habits, overestimate themselves, underestimate hazards and so on. Regarding the issue prevention, research has been going on for decades. Today there are numerous findings for all work areas, excellent instructions and indications. However, the transferred message is not always target group-oriented.
Conclusion: There is a communication “gap” between experts who work out the prevention-relevant information and those who are supposed to implement it.
3. Contents must be transferred beyond the "gap"
What does people motivate to a certain behaviour?
On the one hand, understanding by the rational transfer of information and new knowledge – this is the cognitive performance of communication. On the other hand, emotional address, involvement, identification, subliminal impulses for actions and habits. Such complex communication performances cannot be taken for granted, not even when using modern audiovisual media.
To put it simple, one could think that occupational safety and health is in everyone’s interest. So everyone would have to be extremely interested in this issue. However, everyone who has spent just a bit of time with the transfer of issues from the field of prevention will certainly have made the experience that this important issue cannot sell itself. And communication experts confirm that in reality not a single issue sells itself.
Conclusion: Communication is an active and complex process. Communication is art, science, handcraft – and business.
4. Professional communication is omnipresent
This is precisely the reason why communication experts – such as communication scientists and media researchers, advertising experts and PR professionals, journalists and artists – are searching for the best way to get the message across.
This is precisely the reason why communication experts – such as communication scientists and media researchers, advertising experts and PR professionals, journalists and artists – are searching for the best way to get the message across. They generate a continuous medial "noise level", wherefrom a great variety of contents is being absorbed nearly unnoticed or at least without reflection. Hardly anyone is aware how much of one’s "own" opinion has consciously been created by professionals.
No matter if political convictions, cultural preferences or consumption decisions – the supposed free formation of opinions is continuously being influenced by a controlled media communication. People mostly realise this constant manipulation in classical advertisements. Promotion does not hide. It usually openly presents its intention: without asking and in an offensive manner, it confronts its target groups with its issues. On the one hand, these issues have to be attractive. On the other hand, promotion must use suitable media in order to reach its target groups. Everyone is aware of this form of commercial advertisement.
Conclusion: In economy, professional communication is something absolutely self-evident.
5. But also the good needs to be sold properly
Communication for non-commercial "good" contents like social issues, art and culture, environmental protection, religion/churches, health – and, of course, also prevention! – is basically nothing more than promotion.
If we want Vision Zero first to be anchored in people’s minds and then to become reality, our communication has to be at least "state of the art" if not even belong to the avant-garde. In different terms: as regards the methods, it doesn’t harm to learn from the classical commercial advertisement. In the end, it is even indispensable because big companies that have invested billions of dollars in order to win the battle for the attention of their target groups have always further improved their creative concepts of promotion.
Advertising experts use the "AIDA model" that shows most simply, what is really important for a successful communication:
Attention: the attention of the customer is caught
Interest: the interest of the customer is aroused
Desire: the desire for the product is inspired
Action: the customer buys the product
In connection with prevention communication, "Desire" is certainly the desire for more safety and health and “Action” the respective behaviour. Today, the distance towards creative promotion and communication concerning non-commercial contents has gradually disappeared. This is a good development since creative promotion doesn’t make serious contents less serious but more successful. Creativity is the only chance to reach people with the "good" issue.
Conclusion: Promotion for the good is good.
6. Giving to the people what they love
What is the new approach to overcome the self-created weariness misery? Simply put, it succeeds in arousing interest with new narrative forms. Ideally, the target groups – whose attention has skilfully been drawn to it – want to see the advertising on their own initiative. The secret is..?
Whether commercial or non-commercial, whether for cars or social issues – in recent years, tenor and style of promotion have moved away from being informative and instructive, away from being clearly persuasive and seductive. The development has now turned towards entertainment that appeals to the human curiosity, to his sense of humour as well as to his intelligence. Intelligent, creative storytelling means combining contents and messages skilfully in stories with the result that in the first place they do not give instructions or "promote" but evoke or modify feelings and convictions. It is all about identification and attitudes. It is a matter of thinking that something is generally good or cool, of wanting to be a part of it etc.
Good entertainment doesn’t necessarily require much effort. The idea, the timing and the right tonality guarantee the success. Not to forget the power of emotions: What gets under your skin, burns itself into our memory.
Conclusion: Someone who can tell entertaining stories will be listened. Whoever likes to listen is open to contents.
7. The emotional access is decisive
Storytelling increasingly overcomes the boundaries between promotion, entertainment and art and thus helps to place messages in a way that directly involves the target group.
Scientifically, the meaning of stories is based on the existence of so-called mirror neurons in our brain. When we look at something, these specialised neurons evoke the same activity pattern in us as if we experienced it ourselves. Thanks to the mirror neurons, humans have empathy. Example: stepping on a nail . When we look at the picture, it nearly gives our brain the impression that we have stepped on the nail ourselves. This also works for a good story illustrating a process in such a lively, dramatically, surprisingly and emotionally way that it appears to be personally experienced. All the more so if we tell stories by showing films or pictures. A story the viewer identifies with. With an exactly calculated dramaturgy, with tension, with shock elements and many details which are not directly related to the message but which ensure that it comes across and will be remembered. This is the power of storytelling.
The power of emotions in communication has opened completely new fields of research in science as well, for instance with the discipline of neuromarketing. Depending on the cultural context, anxiety or shock advertising quickly leads to a defensive attitude and thus does not really have any effect. Especially in the field of prevention, it is interesting to emphasise the importance of positive emotions. Therefore in modern advertisements, in a rather indirect and entertaining way, the message is being transported by telling stories which often inspire people to such an extent that they want to share them with others, e.g. via YouTube – keyword "viral marketing" – and which have an emotional effect.
For example: "Dumb Ways to die". Over 180 million clicks speak for themselves.
Conclusion: In the field of prevention, the “How” of a successful communication is clearly outlined: entertaining, emotional, humorous, surprising, simple, light...
8. The world of media has changed
However, not only the methods of promotion have strongly changed in the past twenty years. They have been accompanied by a radical change of our media landscape.
While classical media such as print, radio and television with their clear sender-receiver structure have always been used passively, new online media offer fundamentally new communicative dimensions: on the one hand their non-linearity and permanent availability, on the other hand the users’ new possibilities of becoming part of the media design or the distribution of contents. In many cases, passive users become active ones. The online media are stationary and mobile, browser-based and available via a vast number of apps. They integrate the classical media – from the simplest written communication to a moving image (real, computer generated, diverse mixed forms) up to multimedia solutions – and extend them by interactive applications, ideally by including social media.
A few examples relating to campaigns:
- The perfect example for an integrated campaign with online games, films, e-learning, downloads etc.
- The integration into social media such as Facebook considerably increases the reach and broadens the horizon by networking with other issues.
- Another successful example: the campaign on Speak up Stay Safe
Many, especially younger target groups can hardly be reached other than by online media. Those using these media, signalise not only by the contents but already by the use itself that they are really relevant for these target groups. Ideally, everything we have just said regarding modern methods of communication – storytelling, entertainment, involvement, emotionalisation etc. – will be applied with various media. Thus, the target group will not only be reached at the most different levels. It will also be really interested and enthusiastic and thus become itself a “multiplicator” for the contents.
Conclusion: In the right place at the right time via the right channel with the right issues: in the field of prevention, especially modern online media can lead, explain, entertain, excite, convince, inspire, wake up, encourage – and win.
9. Many possibilities – and their integration
The perfectly coordinated connection of methodological and technical possibilities is the basis of integrated campaigns around occupational safety and health. This integration of communication-"genres" and media is a decisive key to success for prevention campaigns:
With thrilling stories on the one hand – and this has only become possible by online-based media - by involving the target group and on the other hand by getting into dialogue with others, the communication started by the sender continues independently. The more fun and inspiration a medial adventure shared with others conveys, the more it is recognised to have shared it. Each "like" on Facebook is an impulse in the reward centre of the mesolimbic system of our brain. Thus, good stories about "viral effects" can create an emotional feedback as a supplementary amplifier. The study of the Australian Centre for Automotive Safety Research at the University of Adelaide (L. Wundersitz: "Workplace safety: A review of best practice for mass media campaigns") points out to select the right media for the respective target group and at the same time to strive for a wide media basis in order to reach as many people as possible, which can well be realised by means of the campaign approach. The dominant use of images in media generally reduces barriers. It possibly also enables target groups that are less educated or of foreign language or illiterate to understand important contexts.
A very successful example for such a concept is Napo.
Conclusion: The diverse interaction between multimedia applications, differentiated genres of communication and target group-relevant contents leads to success.
10. Creating an own field
Experience gained in recent years shows that it is an advantage for the issues and media around occupational safety and health to create an own international communication scene. In this context, the International Media Festival for Prevention has in many respects a key position:
- As a patform for the presentation of all sorts of international communication exchange around occupational safety and health. Such a meeting serves to determine the internal position of prevention experts in the field of prevention.
- As an incentive for even more creative, more innovative communication solutions, in order to be awarded in the framework of such a Festival.
- As a "reactor", in which the most different approaches come together, which compete and inspire and also may confuse one another other.This creates a new dynamic within this rather small scene, from which something new can arise.
- As a place, where the worldwide prevention community creates its own media scene. This forms a community benefiting from exchange, inspiration and synergy.
- As a platform for the external presentation of the international scene of occupational safety and health. In this context, medial communication creates in turn medial attention.
In the context of the Festival, experts from all over the world cannot only identify but also think ahead and define innovative communication solutions, suitable for each target group - from the small and medium enterprise to large national or international organisations – as well as for each topic. Created by the interaction of new media, new communication methods and a specific communication culture or ethic, an international media scene emerges promoting and supporting the worldwide needs of occupational safety and health.
Conclusion: The International Media Festival for Prevention presents the level of development which we need to push forward in our daily life.