Learning Objectives: Describe three reasons why local tobacco control programs should partner with other local programs and two challenges in partnering with your state’s media campaign.
Abstract: Large mass media markets are challenging environments in which to do local tobacco control efforts for two reasons: the high expense of media and strong news competition. One strategy to leverage resources is for local programs funded by the same state agency to partner on media initiatives. The assumption is that such groups have common goals, shared agency culture, and similar budgets. This strategy provided a springboard for the Metro Media Network (MMN) a group of ten local programs sharing Atlanta, Georgia’s media market. Formed two months after the state launched its first mass media campaign, the purpose of MMN is collaboration, coordination and sharing of strategies, materials, contacts, budgets, and volunteers regarding paid and earned media.
Numerous challenges faced MMN from the onset: unclear state and local roles; uncertain political climate; a sharp learning curve; the need for buy-in; hindered state support; a lack of precedence; and no contractual obligation to work in this capacity. An early failure of MMN mired the group in sidetracked meetings and caused some hesitation to MMN commitment. However, the resulting discussion helped on two fronts: 1) local staff got around the learning curve on branding, qualitative research and marketing, and 2) state staff and the media agencies learned what local programs need in order to be successful. In a year’s time, the elements crucial to the progress of the group have been dialogue, peer education, state support, patience, cooperation, willingness, commitment, trust and acknowledgement that the process is ongoing and changing.
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