4.2.6. Choosing media and channels for messages

In your target area, which is the most common way for people to receive news or information?

There are many ways to reach audiences, each with different benefits and limitations, see here. This could be radio announcements, posters, fact sheets, face-to-face talks, publications, email, videos, websites, mobile phone messages, social media campaigns, etc. Paper-based materials may not be the most efficient in some localities, and other media such as radio may be more effective.

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Snakes and Ladders board game with rabies prevention messages from India. Photo courtesy of Drs M K Sudarshan, D H Ashwath Narayana, N E Ramesh Masthi, and Praveen Kulkarni, Rabies in Asia Foundation

For children, make use of very visual and interactive media, like games, plays, puppet shows, cartoons, comic books, etc. See here to read about a puppet show developed for children in the Philippines and here for an example of early childhood interventions.

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Comic book with rabies prevention messages. Photo courtesy of Pan-American Health Organization

To determine how best to communicate your information, some of the following questions may be useful:

  • Which communication channels are most common in the target area? These might include radio, audio visual presentations or videos, mobile phones if paper-based or computer-based information is not common. Radio tends to be a good channel, as it overcomes problems such as people being unable to read or having no access to the internet.
  • Which communication channels are most trusted by the target population? For example, most children trust their parents or their teachers to give them correct information.
  • Which communication channels can we afford within our budget?
  • Which communication channels are feasible? For example, promoting your messages via a website is not useful if your target population cannot access the internet.
  • Which channels are we allowed to work with? There may be restrictions.
  • Can we combine a number of different communication channels?
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    Photo courtesy of the Society of Animal Well-Being of Lusaka and by the Department of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Lusaka

There is no best medium. It is important that we choose the appropriate medium that can best reach our intended stakeholders. It may be one particular medium or a combination.

You can download an extensive range of ready-made materials from the website of the Global Alliance for Rabies Control.

Improving media outreach

Media outreach is only one communication approach, but is essential for any campaign. Radio, television and other media personnel are often not aware of what you are doing unless you make them aware. You need to contact them, or even better, invite them to come and see your project/event. It is a good idea to involve journalists in the early planning stages, when you are consulting the community, and make them feel part of the solutions you are trying to plan. They are more likely to give your messages a high profile, and will represent and emphasise them correctly the more they understand the issues.

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Photo courtesy of Global Alliance for Rabies Control

The media like appealing stories, particularly ones which are relevant to their readers or viewers. They look for stories that stimulate debate, controversy or conflict. They are often looking for a personal angle to the story. Reporters are regularly looking for new angles or twists that will attract public interest. In other words, it may not be enough to say rabies is a killer disease and you are trying to make people aware of it. You may need to provide more personal stories, or highlight something unusual about your approach.

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Photo coutesy of Yuri Pedrosa, Rafts, Maranhão, Brazil

Before you contact the media, ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • What are we doing that is new or different?
  • Are there any new scientific data this year?
  • Have we made any noteworthy improvements?
  • Are there any new and interesting partners?
  • Do we have a personal story we could tell? Is there someone in our community who has been affected by rabies and who could tell their story, to highlight why prevention is essential?

    For a toolkit designed to help you communicate with the media about specific events, see here.

    You can also:

  • Make a list of key media contacts, develop relationships with them, and communicate with them regularly. This will help you to obtain media coverage later on.
  • Develop a plan for periodic media coverage of your initiative and make it newsworthy.
  • Identify and train media spokespeople in your organisation.
  • If you are organising training on rabies in the community, invite the media to send representatives, or organise specific training or information days for the media on rabies prevention.
  • Track media coverage. Tracking your media coverage will help you identify any errors or gaps in your messaging. Tracking general media on rabies will also allow you to pick up on myths or misconceptions so that you can correct them. Collect examples of how you are represented in the media – it can help provide evidence of a successful campaign.
  • Capitalise on breaking news. If you are tracking your media coverage, you will be able to pick up on other rabies stories in the media and provide comments. For example, a story on a mass exposure to a rabid animal would be a good time for your organisation/agency to reiterate the importance of your rabies prevention and control efforts.
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    Newspaper article from the Star of Mysore, India

A useful tool for reporters is a pre-packaged media kit. Consider including the following items:

  • A media advisor (to announce a press conference or kick-off event)
  • A press release
  • Local, regional and national statistics about your issue
  • Background information
  • Biographies of your speakers
  • Reproducible copies of charts or graphs used in your speakers’ presentations
  • Photographs they will be able to use without further permission. Include acknowledgement to photographer if required.
  • Copies of other materials or reports on your initiative, which can be used as reference
  • Name and telephone number of someone who can be called to answer questions or verify information
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    Photo courtesy of Global Alliance for Rabies Control

Engage with potential partners
Look for partners who will bring resources, expertise or credibility to your initiative. Think about the roles individual partners can play in distributing your messages and in reaching your target areas. For example, you could reach children by engaging parents’ groups, school groups or teacher training colleges. You could reach dog owners by targeting veterinarians. Choose partners who can bring a variety of skills and benefits to your initiative, and ask them to do something specific. It helps if the role they play in the partnership also achieves some of their own objectives.

Going back to your initial stakeholder analysis can help you identify suitable partners. They may include:

  • Animal welfare groups
  • Department/Ministry of Education
  • Ministries of Health and Agriculture
  • Agricultural/farming associations
  • Immunisation programmes
  • Medical professionals
  • Medical schools
  • Professional associations such as veterinary associations
  • Local health staff
  • Non-profit organisations
  • Micro financing groups
  • Pet organisations or companies
  • Public health organisations
  • Public health schools
  • Teaching organisations
  • Veterinary clinics
  • Veterinary schools

previous page: 4.2.5 Testing messages

next page: 4.2.7. Determining the best timing for delivering messages

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Version 4 - last updated May 2017