Selling Safety and Health...Make the Media Work for You

  • Baker, David E.;
  • Redfield, Laura

Most people read newspapers and magazines or listen to radio or television on a daily basis. Using these media to deliver safety and health messages is an effective and relatively inexpensive way to reach a mass audience.

The Extension Safety and Health Program, sponsored by the University of Missouri-Columbia (MU) and NIOSH, has worked successfully with a variety of media to educate the public about safety and health concerns.

Between July and September, 1993, Project staff cooperated with MU's Extension and Agricultural Information Office on ten flood-related news releases, eight radio interviews, one television interview and a video. Clips of these stories were recorded and staff found that the releases were used by about 100 newspapers and dozens of radio and television stations, with an estimated audience of more than 1 million.

Between September, 1993, and June 24, 1994, Project staff produced 25 news releases, each of which were sent to more than 150 newspapers, magazines, television stations and radio stations in Missouri as well as the Associated Press.

MU's Extension and Agricultural Information Office has tracked the use of news releases distributed by the University of Missouri system as a whole by logging the clips of each story which are found by the Missouri Press Association. Staff found that safety and health articles are very popular with both urban and rural media.

Project staff also produce the Extension Safety and Health Network newsletter, a bimonthly newsletter. It is distributed to every county extension office in Missouri, 400 members of the Western Dealer's Association, and the Missouri Department of Health. Like the news releases, the newsletter encompasses a variety of safety and health topics. Articles from the newsletter have appeared in several newspapers.

Staff also cooperate with MU's Newsbites, a 1-800 service radio stations can call to listen to recorded interviews with staff and faculty. Project staff have worked closely with Steve Banning, the director of radio for the University of Missouri System. Staff have given more than twenty non-flood safety and health interviews for Newsbites. Banning tracks how many times each story is selected from the menu. He expects successful stories to be selected at least ten times. Safety and health stories released so far have been selected between 11 and 27 times, with an average use by 16.7 stations.

This research abstract was extracted from a portion of the proceedings of "Agricultural Safety and Health: Detection, Prevention and Intervention," a conference presented by the Ohio State University and the Ohio Department of Health, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control/National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

L.M. Redfield and D.E. Baker, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO.

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