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Student Health Services puts emphasis on advertising

March 8, 2007

The Wellness Challenge, e-CHUG and anti-smoking marketing campaigns are displayed on several poster stands located throughout campus, including two placed in the University Center.

Student Health Services originally received the stands as part of a Tobacco Prevention Program from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services intended to prevent and reduce tobacco use on campus.

Now, there are a variety of other organizations that provide funding to continue the health-related advertising.

River Falls Partnership is a youth substance abuse prevention group that focuses mainly on alcohol misuse and has provided funding for the fifth year.

Bringing Theory to Practice, dealing with mental health from the College of Arts and Sciences, and the State Wisconsin Employees from the campus and community are other organizations supplying grants this year as well.

In addition, some UW System schools such as UW-Oshkosh are providing grants to ensure that both they and UW-River Falls are getting the most accurate health data possible.

“Sharing a lot of data on students helps us incorporate into the marketing,” Alice Reilly-Myklebust, director of Student Health Services, said.

Other ways that Student Health Services is advertising their messages is through “stall talks” posters located in the bathroom stalls, alcohol and tobacco related information tables in the University Center and now on the Internet.

Student Health Services is trying a new “social norms marketing” which helps students realize that reality is much lower than they assume, Reilly-Myklebust said.

“With the new program, e-CHUG, it allows students to see actual data compared to other students because most of the time they overestimate,” she said. “This will allow them to help correct those perceptions.”

The grants require the poster stands to be displayed in high-traffic areas around campus such as residence halls and academic buildings.

Some UW-River Falls students said they hadn’t even noticed the poster stands and the ones that do see them don’t feel affected.

“It would be interesting to see how much money I could be spending on alcohol a week,” sophomore Theresa Kurtz said. “[but] I have better things to do with my time. Unless I was forced to do it, I don’t think I would.”

Another student, sophomore Joe Engelhardt didn’t find the posters useful or influential for the campus.

“I don’t think students notice them because they don’t care,” Engelhardt said.

Student Health Services said that they update the posters every two weeks so people don’t stop looking at them. Most recently, the posters switched from promoting the e-CHUG survey to a stop smoking campaign.

“The students are the ones designing the poster ads,” Student Health Services Educator Keven Syverson said. “They will continue to promote the 25-foot radius policy for smokers as well as not littering cigarette butts this spring.”

There are a few interns every semester that help promote the health-related marketing towards the students, he said.

Since it is difficult to prove how effective the posters really are, Student Health Services is beginning to implement new marketing strategies.

“You can’t just put poster stands up and say ‘that’s it,'” Reilly-Myklebust said.

“I hope that students will keep looking at the misperceptions of alcohol and tobacco use and that every year we keep changing to evolve with things like Facebook,” Syverson said.

Student Health Services started advertising through Facebook and e-mail, which seems to be the most useful method, he said.

The poster stands are just part of the advertising strategies of Student Health Services, and they will continue to be used.

Visit the Student Health Services Web site to find out more information about e-CHUG and other health-related programs.