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Focus Group Recruiting in Health Communication Campaigns: Lessons from a Project on Risky Sexual Behavior
Unformatted Document Text:  Recruiting for Focus Groups in Health Communication Campaigns page 15 When designing the print ad, researchers should include a statement about the important criteria for participants such as gender, or age requirements. The ad should also introduce the topic involved and the incentives being offered. This helps assure that most calls are already within the broad definition of the target population, which saves time for recruiters during screening callbacks. The Mass Media Project advertisements varied slightly but this is an example of the text of an ad that was run in a classified employment section: $25+free food for your thoughts! Join a 1-1 1/2 hours discussion about TV ads on risky behaviors. You must be 18-22 years old. Call XXX-XXXX. Ask for Mass Media Project. This proved to be a successful recruiting ad because it caught the prospective respondent’s attention with the incentive -- $25 and food. Additionally the ad made it clear what people would be expected to do – share their thoughts during a discussion. It also hinted at the topic by mentioning the focus on risky behaviors. Finally, it noted the desired age range so that individuals would not waste their time calling if they were too old. Although the Project had loosened eligibility requirements to include adults up to 26 years old, all advertisements were run with the narrower range in order to encourage participation among this younger group. Picking the right publication for the print ad is essential if it is to be an effective strategy. The Mass Media researchers determined what publications the target population was likely to read, and then carefully chose the day or days of the week the ad would appear. For example, holiday weekends were avoided since young adults were likely to be engaged in other activities and might not read a paper or magazine. Publications chosen by the Mass Media Project included the local newspaper, the campus newspaper, and an employment tabloid that is free for readers and a local arts tabloid. Another consideration is whether the ad should appear in the classifieds or if it should have a more distinct stand-alone placement. The Mass Media Project chose to use the classifieds, specifically the “employment” listings. The Mass Media Project used this approach in all three waves, especially to reach community members, and found it to be a productive strategy. However the strategy required careful planning in many respects. First, placing the ads required planning in terms of making publication deadlines, and in terms of deciding when ads should be repeated. Second, in-coming calls required a carefully designed system. Since Project personnel could not be available to answer phones on a 24 hour basis, an automated message had to be prepared that invited callers to leave contact information so they could be called back. Additionally to assure that all calls were accounted for, the Project Team created a system to keep a record of the callers and whether there had been a return call by Project researchers. The print ad strategy was used in all three waves and proved to be very efficient and effective. Flyers/Posters. This recruiting strategy relies on identifying locations where the target population is known to hang out. Plastering posters indiscriminately can be very time consuming and not very productive in terms of producing recruiting leads. The poster or flyer should have content similar to the print ad including

Authors: Allard, Suzie., Palmgreen, Philip. and Zimmerman, Rick.
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Recruiting for Focus Groups in Health Communication Campaigns
page 15
When designing the print ad, researchers should include a statement about the important criteria for
participants such as gender, or age requirements. The ad should also introduce the topic involved and the
incentives being offered. This helps assure that most calls are already within the broad definition of the target
population, which saves time for recruiters during screening callbacks.
The Mass Media Project advertisements varied slightly but this is an example of the text of an ad that
was run in a classified employment section:
$25+free food for your thoughts! Join a 1-1 1/2 hours discussion about
TV ads on risky behaviors. You must be 18-22 years old. Call XXX-
XXXX. Ask for Mass Media Project.
This proved to be a successful recruiting ad because it caught the prospective respondent’s attention
with the incentive -- $25 and food. Additionally the ad made it clear what people would be expected to do –
share their thoughts during a discussion. It also hinted at the topic by mentioning the focus on risky
behaviors. Finally, it noted the desired age range so that individuals would not waste their time calling if they
were too old. Although the Project had loosened eligibility requirements to include adults up to 26 years old,
all advertisements were run with the narrower range in order to encourage participation among this younger
group.
Picking the right publication for the print ad is essential if it is to be an effective strategy. The Mass
Media researchers determined what publications the target population was likely to read, and then carefully
chose the day or days of the week the ad would appear. For example, holiday weekends were avoided since
young adults were likely to be engaged in other activities and might not read a paper or magazine.
Publications chosen by the Mass Media Project included the local newspaper, the campus newspaper, and
an employment tabloid that is free for readers and a local arts tabloid.
Another consideration is whether the ad should appear in the classifieds or if it should have a more
distinct stand-alone placement. The Mass Media Project chose to use the classifieds, specifically the
“employment” listings.
The Mass Media Project used this approach in all three waves, especially to reach community
members, and found it to be a productive strategy. However the strategy required careful planning in many
respects. First, placing the ads required planning in terms of making publication deadlines, and in terms of
deciding when ads should be repeated. Second, in-coming calls required a carefully designed system. Since
Project personnel could not be available to answer phones on a 24 hour basis, an automated message had to
be prepared that invited callers to leave contact information so they could be called back. Additionally to
assure that all calls were accounted for, the Project Team created a system to keep a record of the callers
and whether there had been a return call by Project researchers.
The print ad strategy was used in all three waves and proved to be very efficient and effective.
Flyers/Posters. This recruiting strategy relies on identifying locations where the target population is
known to hang out. Plastering posters indiscriminately can be very time consuming and not very productive in
terms of producing recruiting leads. The poster or flyer should have content similar to the print ad including


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