Using Advertising and Free Placements To Promote a Quality Report
You cannot always get the attention of the media when you want it. Nor can you control what the media says. Advertising and free placements, on the other hand, enable you to communicate your message. Like media, advertising can be designed to reach broad populations or to target specific audiences; anything you can do to hone in on your audience will maximize the use of your limited resources.
Free placements are advertising that you do not have to pay for. These include ads that your partners place on their Web sites and in their newsletters, e-mail announcement, regular reports, and other materials they generate. Learn about Using Person-to-Person Outreach Strategies for Quality Reports.
Advertising on the Web
In addition to traditional spaces for advertising, give serious consideration to advertising on the Web, especially if you are producing a Web-based report. For example:
- Buy advertising on Web sites people use frequently when they are looking for health information.
- Purchase advertising directly on search engine Web sites.
- Get favored treatment on search engines by paying to have your site’s URL listed near the top whenever users enter key search terms. (Note: Choose search terms carefully. A broad term like “quality” will not work as well as terms related to the health care issues or entities you are addressing. This advice also relates to your strategy for search engine optimization, which is a way to make sure your Web site and its underlying programming show up on searches even when you are not paying for special treatment.)
Example: Using New Media to Advertise a Quality Report
To promote its CalHospitalCompare Web site, the California Healthcare Foundation developed a targeted campaign to reach women of child-bearing age through a few forms of Web advertising as well as blast emails and more traditional media. Learn more about this campaign in Evaluating a Campaign to Promote CalHospitalCompare.org.
Testing With Your Audience
If the content of an advertisement does not resonate with your audience, it won’t do much for your site no matter how well placed it is. Like your basic messages, the text and the visual component of your ads need to be tested with your audience using focus groups or other methods.
If you contract with an advertising agency to help design creative ads, the agency can put the ads through the same paces that commercial ads go through before being released. Testing costs money, but it can save you money that might otherwise be wasted on ineffective ads.
Tip: Look for in-kind help from partners such as large employers or state agencies that have staff members with communications and marketing expertise.
Recommended resource: Why Bad Ads Happen to Good Causes.