Sometimes, all it takes to pull off an unusual and successful community event is a little incentive for the target audience.
Men in their 40s and 50s are usually reluctant to dwell on the notion of prostate cancer, much less make a doctor's appointment to get tested.
But at Local TV LLC-owned WITI Milwaukee, they know that few things will inspire a guy more than the offer of free seats to a ball game.
On April 29, WITI ran an event to get men screened for possible prostate problems. The lure: offering tickets to a Milwaukee Brewers game.
The program targeted men over 40. But smartly, the PSAs and segments on the morning newscasts were also directed at their wives.
“We know men don't generally do this, so we said to the women, 'Get your man down here to get screened,'” says Anne Brown, the station's director of community affairs and special projects.
The station partnered with the National Coalition Against Prostate Cancer, which provides mobile screening equipment in a traveling van. WITI also teamed with a Milwaukee-area hospital, Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin.
There was minimal paperwork and a quick blood test to determine each person's qualifications. The two medical organizations provided follow-up for those who needed it. “Having good medical partners is key,” Brown says.
According to Brown, informal polling revealed that while some men were in it for the Brewers tickets, others were uninsured or genuinely concerned about their health.
It was the second year for this campaign, and last year's event generated significant buzz, including ESPN coverage. And despite some brutally cold Wisconsin weather, this year's effort led to 480 people getting screened, an increase of more than 25% over 2007.
Some men began arriving at 4:30 a.m. to be at the front of the line when the doors opened at 7.
“There was a real sense of camaraderie,” Brown says. “Some even said they came back because they 'had so much fun last year.'“