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The Responsible Gambling Council (RGC) is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to problem gambling prevention.

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4 Strategies for Building a Successful Prevention Week

by Paula Antoniazzi, Program Director | Oct 05, 2012 11:25 AM

Newscan (Vol, 14, Issue 39)

RGC has delivered problem gambling prevention programs at the community level in Ontario for almost a decade. At first, it was Within Limits: Problem Gambling Prevention Month, but in 2009, we made a significant change to a themed, week-long, community-focused program that runs on a 2-year cycle called Problem Gambling Prevention Week (PGPW).

As we enter the fourth year of this weekly format, we thought it was time to take a look at the valuable lessons that have helped us reach a wider audience and keep our messages fresh and relevant.

Build a strong theme

When RGC introduced the program in 2004, we emphasized the Within Limits brand in our media pieces, signage, website and more. We thought this repetition and consistency was a key part of the program. We did include a specific program theme, but we treated it as secondary to the overall Within Limits concept.

When we looked at the program evaluations, though, we saw something that surprised us: people recalled the specific theme and messages better than they recalled the name Within Limits. This made us realize that a strong theme means a strong program. This theme should:

  • resonate with the widest possible audience
  • provide a hook to capture attention
  • put a unique spin on prevention messaging

This change led us to the point where, two years ago, we moved away from the name Within Limits altogether. Today we always consider the theme first, and use it to develop a key message and hook that will carry us through the two-year cycle of PGPW. From program creative to tour roll-out to media relations and advertising, theme now drives all of our PGPW activities.

RGC's current PGPW theme is 'No Regrets,' which emphasizes that a real “win” is not connected to the outcome of play. Rather, you avoid gambling regrets by staying safe and steering clear of potential problems. NoRegrets.ca

Focus on community

When pitching our PGPW story to the media, we are always asked: “What is the local angle?” Reporters understand that information close to home has more impact and relevance to their audience. We took that lesson and applied it to our programming.

  • We provide media with local information, presenting facts and stats as they relate to an individual community.
  • We visit each community, now staying longer and establishing partnerships with local contacts. If the goal is to get your message out to a diverse audience in many communities, working with community partners is critical.
  • We tailor messages to specific communities and demographics: Whether the focus is on parents worried about their teens, Baby Boomers or specific ethno-cultural groups, it is important to customize your message for specific audiences.

Make it interactive!

Problem gambling prevention information is not something that the general public is actively seeking out—especially on-site at casinos and slots venues. Our PGPW team has to compete with all the action: flashing lights, games, shows, music. So it is critical to add an interactive element that is inviting and engaging.

We use a friendly approach to let people know that we are focused on prevention. From our PGPW websites to our events, RGC has always introduced an interactive and engaging element to prevention week (trivia game, display graphics and, this year, a Cost2Play Calculator app).

Use multiple points of contact

RGC has learned not to rely on one channel of communication. To name a few, RGC uses 

We use a multimedia approach in a concentrated period of time with a local angle.

These key strategies have worked: RGC has witnessed an expansion of our program reach and increased retention of our PGPW messaging. What ties all of the above strategies together is our understanding that no matter what you do today, you must keep looking for new ways to do things. You can never sit on past successes—you must be committed to constant evaluation and improvement to ensure long-term success.