The Carrot or the Stick?

Sep 19

Ever wonder how powerful a ‘headline’ can be? I recently read an article entitled “Millions don’t have their blood pressure under control”. And all I kept thinking was ‘but how many millions DO have their blood pressure under control?’ It made me wonder what can we learn from those who DO do it right?

I know media is often looking for a hook and typically that hook takes the form of a fear-tactic. Don’t get me wrong, even in the public health sector, fear-appeal messages, when paired with important content on how to avoid the danger, can be very powerful and persuasive. But, I can’t help wonder whether in this day and age, when fear appeals are everywhere, whether we’ve grown immune to such headlines. I would find myself much more intrigued to hear what IS working for the millions who have been able to control their blood pressure. What really did work for the millions who have lost the extra weight that had put them at risk for diabetes or heart disease? What types of investment, refinancing strategies did work for the millions who didn’t lose their homes in the recent economic downturn. Those types of articles would give me hope! Isn’t that the information we are all looking for… how to improve our health, finances, quality of life?

Looking at the content of the blood pressure article, there are solid recommendations for how controlling blood pressure can be successful, but they are buried under even more alarming statistics of how many people don’t even realize they have high blood pressure, how many don’t take medicine, and how many take medicine but don’t have it under control. Is the real question ‘how bad has this health crisis become’ or should it be ‘how can it be fixed’? If it’s the latter, then would an approach that spotlights successes and helps people learn from each other work harder in helping us make positive life changes?

This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 19th, 2012 at 11:03 am and is filed under Social Marketing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to “The Carrot or the Stick?”

  1. Dana Allen-Greil says:

    Interesting contrast with this headline from AARP, “New Tools to Help You Get Blood Pressure under Control.” The blog post highlights many of the same statistics you mention in your post but pairs that information with new videos and tools to help people better understand blood pressure and how they can work with their health care professionals and pharmacists to better manage high blood pressure. http://blog.aarp.org/2012/09/13/new-tools-to-help-you-get-blood-pressure-under-control/
    (Note: Million Hearts is an Ogilvy client.)