Improving Our Communication: A Comparison of Four Promotion Techniques
Keywords:Promotion, field experiment, attitude, intentions, behavioral change, leisure service programs.
AbstractCommunication techniques and organizational promotion techniques have been widely researched in the marketing, advertising, and consumer literature. These topics have not, however, received much attention in the leisure literature, including that portion which focuses specifically on park and recreation management issues. It is becoming increasingly difficult to justify expenditures on public leisure programs and infrastructure without taking more care in communicating the benefits associated with participation in, or even the existence of, these resources. The current research was designed to begin addressing this void. A field experiment was developed, built around the concept of an existing multivenue recreation event: homecoming at a major university. The 263 participating subjects were assigned to one of two control groups, or one of four experimental groups. Subjects in the experimental groups received one of four communication strategies: an informative brochure, an informative and persuasive brochure, a website, or a personal appeal. It was hypothesized that the first strategy would be least effective and the latter strategy most effective in positively influencing attitudes toward the event, intent to participate in one or more aspects of the event, and actual participation in the event. Measures included attitude toward the communication effort, attitude toward the event, behavioral intentions to participate, and actual participation. The treatments were largely successful, usually in the order predicted, in altering attitude toward the communication effort (p<.05), attitude toward the event (p<.05), and intentions (p<.05) among participating subjects. No significant differences (p=.95) were found, however, with respect to behavior. Data suggests that some forms of promotion (i.e., personal appeal, website) are more effective than others. Managers at public leisure service agencies are advised to integrate a variety of these promotional tools in order to communicate more effectively with a broad audience. Implications for future research regarding communication strategies and for future marketing and management strategies related to communication issues are discussed. Special emphasis is given to discussing practical applications that are within the financial, technological, and human resource capabilities of most public leisure service agencies.
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