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What a campaign looks like
A successful campaign has four components: health evidence, behaviour change, mass media, and impact measurement.
We need to understand the causes of child mortality in order to tackle them. To do this we use standard data sources, such as DHS and Countdown to 2015. These help us to prioritise which countries to work in, and which interventions to focus on.
We refer to existing resources produced by the World Health Organisation, UNICEF and other experts to identify the life-saving, evidence-based, essential interventions which will have the greatest impact on tackling the health needs of each country. We then use our statistical model to determine which interventions we should promote in order to save the greatest number of lives.
We work with global and national experts, including the World Health Organisation, UNICEF and the local Ministry of Health, to develop health messages in line with international guidelines and national strategic priorities.
Getting inside the minds of the target audience, and tailoring messages to match their values, is a crucial challenge for any campaign. This is initially a research task. We work in close partnership with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, using focus groups and other techniques to understand the target audience and the barriers that are preventing them from adopting healthy behaviours. This research is then converted into creative outputs such as scripts and TV and radio spots (60 second adverts).
Our executive producers work alongside the most talented local producers (who are expert in the local culture, humour and sensitivities) to produce creative outputs that are entertaining, engaging and relevant to the target audience. Read more about our approach to creating materials that change behaviours.
The creative outputs are pre-tested, again using focus groups, in order to select the spots that resonate with the audience and will have the greatest impact on behaviours.
Media is an area where vast amounts of money can be wasted if a project is badly designed. Our expertise is in maximising impact and cost-effectiveness. We use detailed audience research to ensure messages are transmitted at the right times and through the right media outlets (radio, TV, mobile phones) to reach their target audience. Widely-used formats include TV and radio spots, radio phone-ins, soap operas, talk shows, magazine programmes, quiz programmes, concept placement and interpersonal formats. But each format has a very different use and cost, both of which need to be considered alongside the objectives of the campaign and the available budget.
Scale is crucial. Even a perfect set of media spots will fail if they are not broadcast frequently enough. But airtime is expensive, particularly when a campaign requires repeated waves of campaigning. The traditional advertising-based model of producing in a small production house and buying airtime needs repeated, large injections of funding, and is unsustainable because it does not build capacity. Our methodology is to work in close partnership with the Ministry of Health and local media organisations. We provide training and build capacity, and local broadcasters then provide free or heavily subsidised airtime for the campaign: a win-win exchange. This formula has been successfully pioneered in twelve countries.
We don’t broadcast messages in a vacuum. Many (but not all) of the behaviours that we are promoting depend on the availability of services, such as clean water or antibiotics. We work closely with supply-side initiatives to make this happen. We also integrate radio and television with other media (for example, partnering with mobile phone-based projects).
To understand our impact, we need to know exactly what is happening before we start. A detailed baseline survey also helps us to design our campaign to maximise its impact.
Systematic monthly feedback surveys are carried out during broadcasting in order to monitor the impact and effectiveness of our messages. Our close relationships with broadcasters, and our regular cycle of audience research and pre-testing of draft materials using focus groups, also allows us to collect a huge amount of feedback. We use this to identify areas where our projects can be improved, and make these improvements on a regular basis.
We conduct ‘knowledge, attitudes and practices’ surveys to compare behaviours before and after our project. Where possible we measure ‘observed’ rather than ‘reported’ behaviours. We also use a number of techniques to disaggregate the impact of our media campaigns from other activities that may impact on behaviours. These include dose-response analyses, time-series evaluations, and the use of control groups (sometimes including a randomised set of control groups, as with our trial in Burkina Faso). For child survival campaigns, we can then use our statistical model to convert behaviour change outcomes into health impacts (lives saved).