In October, when everything turns pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we go into information overload. A figurative bubble gum burst. However, with 220,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the United States, it’s understandable that marketers would want to do their part for awareness and to promote related services.
Come November though, the average consumer goes back to their regularly scheduled lives. $50 mammogram specials being advertised at local healthcare facilities, 5K’s celebrating survivors and honoring those lost to the disease, campaigns for research funding—they all subside back into far corners of the vast health messaging universe. While there is a lot of truth to the idea that there is strength in numbers, people still get treated year-round and are still seeking information for themselves and loved ones.
As health communicators we could take note from support groups spearheaded by the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service and work done by Susan G. Komen as leading examples of successful campaigns driven by social influence. They achieve maximum reach in their messaging by standing out from the pack, by relating to need and emotion. In survey findings published in the Journal of Health Communication, 60% of women stated that they recalled memorable breast cancer messages. To that tune, it probably wouldn’t hurt to step it up if we want to be leaders, too.
Some hospitals and breast health centers have been keen enough to recognize this and have been promoting screening events in the Spring that advertise health information in a spa-like setting, while others have even catered to the primary demographic (those who routinely get examined the rest of the year) by making getting a mammogram as casual as another routine stop at the mall. Depending on your role at your workplace or just as a member of the community, there are plenty of resources out there to help supplement breast cancer awareness activity year-round as well and many organizations solely function to do so.
Consider venues such as social media, traditional media, and community events to get early detection and prevention methods out there. For treatment methods and support, there is no better way to embrace and engage your audience than participation in current conversations. Facilitate online forums or attend/participate in regularly scheduled activities in the area and don’t forget to include the support system audience. Ultimately, if your organization really believes in the cause (people WILL know, so will your network. Collectively, we can make “pink” a part of everyday life and still maintain be a healthy balance between advertising and health promotion.