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Designing a Communications Campaign

Here, Humayra Binte Anwar talks through key considerations in designing an effective health communications campaign. (Step 4.11)
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HUMAYRA BINTE ANWAR: Now let’s talk about designing a communication campaign. We have some questions to answer– how to deliver messages to people– what are the levels? As I have mentioned earlier, we will talk about the individual, interpersonal, and community levels here only. The individual, or interpersonal communication can be defined as communication with oneself. And that may include self-talk, acts of imagination and visualization, and even recall and memory. When you see in Facebook that your friend has checked-in a restaurant, what comes in your mind? Oh, that’s my favorite place. The food looks yummy. Last time, we had fun. It won’t take too long to go there. Let’s call him or her and say, I’m coming.
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Until you press the button of the phone, it’s interpersonal communication. Now let’s focus on interpersonal and mass-level communication that are mostly used. Interpersonal communication is an exchange of information between two-or-more people. It can be very effective in influencing and reinforcing positive behavior change, but it is not good for reaching many people quickly, without extensive planning and training of the staff or volunteers. If communicators are not well-trained and oriented, clear-and-consistent information or messages can’t be collected. Then comes mass communication, which is one component of effective public-health program implementation. It includes news stories– that is, earned media– paid media– that is, advertising– and social and digital media– that includes television, social-networking sites, text messaging, mobile application, websites, blogs, interpersonal.
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And mass-level communication are mostly used for health communication. Health communication is needed at each stage of making decision for vaccination. Initially, we need mass media to build trust among the community and the health workers then during the interaction phase, the health workers should be equipped with professional tools like ID badges, mobile, [INAUDIBLE],, et cetera, to build a rapport with the community. Later, the community discussion and leave behind influence the success of future campaigns. Now there are a few criterias that we need for effective health communication. First is the accuracy– that the content is valid and without errors. Then, availability– that is, the message is delivered or placed where the audience can access it.
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Placement varies according to the audience, message complexity and purpose– ranging from interpersonal and social networks to billboard and mass-transit signs– to TV or radio and to the internet. Next criteria is balance– that the content presents to the benefits and risks of potential elections, or recognizes different-and-valid perspective on the issue. Then, consistency– that is, the content remains consistent over time, and also is consistent with the information from other sources. For cultural competence, the design, implementation, and evaluation process should consider special population groups, like ethnic, racial, and linguistic– and also, educational level and visibility. Then, the message should be scientifically evidence based. Also, the content should be reachable to the largest possible number of people in the target population.
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The message should be reliable. The source of the content is credible. And the content itself is keep up to date. And finally, the repetition– that is, the delivery of the content is continued or repeated over time, and to reach new generations. There are some tools we use for health communication, in effective information, education, and communication materials. That is called IEC materials. It is important component of the comprehensive-health programs. These IEC materials and activities used for polio eradication. Data from 2004 to 2005 show that 86% of responders of UP exposed to the radio and television reported taking their children to the booth for vaccination, compared with the 45% among those not exposed to the advertising.
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During choosing the tools, we have to consider the purpose, targeted audience, channels of communication, whom to engage, and the cost. In our purpose of polio eradication, the target audience was mainly the female caregivers, as they play a primary role in the decision-making regarding immunization for their own children. The communications strategy was focused on reaching woman, with an emphasis on OPD safety and efficacy and its benefits to children. They were reached through both interpersonal communication and mass media. Trained female health workers were engaged, and they communicated directly with their female caregivers, or indirectly to female in the community. The female teams were effective in influencing caregivers, as shown by reports in target areas.
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Social-mobilization network was built by UNICEF in India, where mothers from the community were trained as community-mobilization coordinators and tasked with speaking to other mothers about children’s health, the importance of taking the polio vaccine repeatedly, and quelling concerns about the safety. Also, older women were recruited to enhance moral-and-social acceptability. Nigeria staff is at work, with 99% woman in the high-risk, conservative Muslim northern states. In Bangladesh, women were also targeted as audience, as there were more responsible for their child’s health. Huge female family [INAUDIBLE] essence worked as community-health worker for polio-immunization activities here. On the other hand, the community of Afghanistan took the engagement of woman negatively, and this strategy was not successful for them. Now let’s talk about branding.
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A brand is that unique combination of name, term, sign, symbol, or design, that represents a project, service, or company, and how it relates to key stakeholders. As we go about the work of ending polio and beyond, it’s important that we connect that effort with a clear, recognizable brand, like Apple, Coca-Cola, that can become associated with certain values over time. Why we need branding– branding fosters the recognition. It tells people what you stand for. It provides motivation and direction for your own people. A strong brand helps people know what to expect. A brand helps you to connect emotionally, as well. What is the importance of Guardian of Health brand, that is being used for polio eradication?
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To brand the health workers’ effort, Guardians of Health name and logo has been created. The diamond-holding shape of the symbol contains a pair of stylised drop shapes. The larger drop seems to be cradling the smaller inverted drop, in a symbolic expression of care. This mark recognizes the legacy of oral polio vaccine, which also directing the way to the future of the post-polio health-service offering. This logo additionally signifies a new energy around the effort in markets that have experienced fatigue with current polio communication efforts. Guardians of Health speaks to the role of both the health workers and the caregivers. Finally, I would like to finish the lecture providing another successful example from Bangladesh.
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National Immunization Days in Bangladesh is one of the examples of the power of social mobilization to health communication in Bangladesh. During NIDs, noticeable actions were taken to make them seem like a festival date of the country, and massive social-mobilization efforts were taking place. During NIDs, around 600,000 volunteers, who were involved lively in each session and worked in coordination with the government field workers and the first-line supervisors. The volunteer group were composed of people, including teachers, students, religious personalities, Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, women, members of community-based microfinance organizations, NGOs, Village Defense Party, and many other indigenous organization. In most cases, the NID rounds were inaugurated by the honorable prime minister, or by the health minister.
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Mobile announcement through loudspeaker from decorated bicycle, announcement in mosque, street music, television, and radios spots– and efforts by influential people, jingles, and drama, et cetera, were used to attract the people. The method has influenced the policy-level person, and motivated over 250,000 young volunteers as well. Who supported the program? Communities even distributed treats to the volunteers and children. NGOs like BRAC, CARE, Grameen, USHA encouraged relevant health messages to through their microcredit estimates. Other strategies, like publishing features in print media, banners, and using morning flags as brand, particularly at and around the vaccination sites, giving importance to NIDs. Countdown during campaign and disseminating important messages to press conference were also taken.
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Through spontaneous involvement of parents and other people, NIDs were held in a celebratory mood, so that parents or caregivers bring their children to the vaccination booth. During NIDs, the role of community was proven in increasing polio-vaccination coverage. This community-participation approach even worked for hard-to-reach areas, as well. Parents learned about NID mostly from the community volunteers who will actively join the campaigns. Therefore, targeting the right audience, effective advocacy and planning, involving all relevant stakeholders, choosing right channel, and building appropriate communication material and their implementation lead to acceptance and trust building among the community. Ultimately, huge social mobilization took place, and the behavior towards polio vaccination was changed– resulting in high OPD coverage in Bangladesh.
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So I am at the end of the lecture. I hope this lecture will help you to understand the basic concepts of health communication and behavior change. Good luck.

Humayra Binte Anwar, BDS, MPH, PhD James P. Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University, Bangladesh

In the reading – Introduction and Chapter 3 of “Influencing Change: Documentation of CORE Group’s Engagement in India’s Polio Eradication”, there are a number of suggested tools to integrate as you design a communication campaign for your own context.

As you think about which tools might work in your context, review the chart “Characteristics of Effective Health Communications” on slide 6 of the slide deck and the list “Things to consider choosing the tools” from slide 8:

  • Purpose
  • Target audience
  • Channels
  • Whom to engage
  • Cost

Choose one tool from the reading that you think would work in your context. Evaluate the tool for your context thinking through the list “things to consider choosing the tools”. Post this evaluation in the discussion.

Then, read other learners’ posts. Choose one and ask a question or comment about their tool.

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