Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Communication Strategy Design

Development is all about change. Development to be achieved effectively, that change must be agreed to by, and not imposed on, relevant stakeholders or audiences.

Before entering into the various elements of the strategy, the communication specialist should  decide which type of communication mix is needed,  which communication approaches, media, or messages would be most effective to achieve the intended change, and the development communication specialist must look back into the research findings. 


Every design of a communication strategy is unique in content, methods, and media.  To design an effective strategy, a professional needs well-defined, spe­cific, and appropriate objectives that is, based on research, as well as in-depth knowledge in the systems of beliefs, perceptions, and knowledge of the specific issues are all need to be known.  

Core Elements in Designing a Strategy

Main Steps of Communication Strategy Design

1. Defining Objectives: The Key Step

Objectives are the core of the strategy, also each element is important and should be carefully considered. Because each is linked to the others and can affect the final outcome. Most of the success of a communication strategy depends on the way the objectives are identified and formulated.  In designing a communication strategy depends largely on the complexity of the objectives. For instance, a project at a national level may  require different types of communication (corporate, advocacy, and development communicationYour objectives are the key to the success of your communications strategy. They should ensure that your communications strategy is organizationally driven rather than communications driven.  To make strategy design easier, the objectives should be as SMART as possible. that is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely (SMART). 
All communication objectives should be SMART 
1. Simple and clear 
2. Measurable 
3. Achievable
 4. Reasonable
5. Time and location specific 
 For example, a communication objective might express knowledge or social change. If the programme does not have clear behavioural objectives or the objectives do not clearly express social and behavioural change.  
 Objectives will be easier to monitor and evaluate if they are structured using clear, action words that lend themselves to measurement.   A development of communication objectives starting with the corresponding programme objectives. 

Programme objectives for: 
You must know that the basic purpose of development is to enlarge people’s choices and create an environment for people to enjoy long, healthy and creative lives.
 Let us list some of the core areas of development. 
 Agriculture 
 Fisheries 
Animal Husbandry 
 Food Security 
 Communication 
  Environment 
 Income generation activities 
 Education 
 Health and Sanitation 
Family welfare

2. Determining an audiences and Stakeholder Groups

Identifying target audiences

Determining the target audience 
• Who do you want to hear or see your target message?
 Who needs to receive your message? 
• Do you have primary, secondary or tertiary audiences? 
• What is your purpose for reaching the audience? 
 • Do you have the necessary resources to reach your target audience?
 • What are you prepared to invest to achieve your desired result? 
• Does your target audience have any special needs? For example, do they have low literacy rates, limited access to media, or disabilities that may prevent them from receiving your message?
 • Become familiar with your target audience. Depending on your communication aim and objectives, you might want to know: Age and other demographic characteristics, o Geographical location, Problems they want to solve,ducational needs/gaps,  Recreational or leisure interests,  Where the audience likes to get new information.

Target Audience Target audiences are the groups of people that you want to receive your message. Determining  target audience is an essential part of formulating a successful communication strategy.  After figuring out who your target audience is, the next step is to determine the importance of each audience.  Looking at it from a different perspective, the rank of importance could be how much you need the audience .  In order to select the most appropriate media and to design a message effectively, the communication specialist needs to know the norms, values of reference, actions, and aspirations of the audience. This can be achieved by adopting a high degree of empathy and doing proper research. Communicating the scientifically correct infor­mation is seldom enough to change audiences' attitudes and behaviors.

Primary targets audience are those who have the power to effect the changes the campaign calls for. They need to be influenced in order to reach the campaign goal. 

The secondary target audience. Local leaders and opinion-makers, including mass media and religious or other traditional authorities, are key secondary targets in most campaigns because of their power to influence large numbers of people, as well as those who are in a position to make change. In complicated or complex campaigns.

Determining the target audience 
• Who do you want to hear or see your target message?
 Who needs to receive your message? 
• Do you have primary, secondary or tertiary audiences? 
• What is your purpose for reaching the audience? 
 • Do you have the necessary resources to reach your target audience?
 • What are you prepared to invest to achieve your desired result? 
• Does your target audience have any special needs? For example, do they have low literacy rates, limited access to media, or disabilities that may prevent them from receiving your message?
 • Become familiar with your target audience. Depending on your communication aim and objectives, you might want to know: Age and other demographic characteristics, o Geographical location, Problems they want to solve,ducational needs/gaps,  Recreational or leisure interests,  Where the audience likes to get new information. 

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3Definition of type/Levels of Change

The communication objectives of approaches within the monologic mode imply a level of change that usually falls within one of the following categories: awareness, knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors (or practices) or AKAB. 

Sometimes there is the need to address a change more on a social level, such as mobilizing communities to play an active part in the decentralization effort, having different groups of stakeholders collaborating on a common initiative, or mediating a conflict that has negative repercussions on the social development of the area. Such change is usually addressed by dialogic approaches.

4. Selecting Channel

A deliberate media strategy is needed to identify and effectively use appropriate media. To conducting a situation analysis, defining clear goals, planning action, and deciding how to monitor the process and outcomes of the media strategy. 

The analysis should include a thorough mapping of the media environment, to review existing media and identify the communication channels which are most likely to reach each of your target audiences or audience segments.
  • Communication channels
  • Quantity and quality of media outlets; type of media outlet
  • News cycles: 24-hours (like the BBC or CNN), daily (many newspapers), weekly, monthly (many magazines) etc.
  • Popularity; levels of readership or viewership
  • Types of readership or viewership (e.g. age group, education level)
  • Levels of access by target audience(s)
  • Ideological or other leanings (e.g. media that adopt a certain religious leaning, or that are for/against a particular political party)
  • Non-traditional media outlets: new mediums (e.g. online news sites, blogs), alternative media (not mainstream, NGO-led, including community media outlets)


5. Basics of Message Design


In development, message design should be first and foremost about listening in order to understand and ensure that messages convey what is relevant and needed by stakeholders in a given situation. 

(1) the content design for messages to persuade individuals to change,
(2) the design of materials to stimulate open-ended discussions between different groups of stakeholders,
(3) the design of messages to promote or advocate specific issues, such as public reforms, and

In order to ensure the effectiveness of the desired outputs, when defining or supervising the design of messages, the following basic factors, derived mostly from Designing Messages for Development Communication, should be kept in mind.

Socio cultural sensitivity—Content and presentation should be appropriate for the cultural environment. In a number of cases, cultural issues, not content, were the main cause of a campaign failure. In one case, a campaign was encouraging women to vaccinate their children so they could have healthier and longer lives. But the color of the campaign posters was white, which in that particular culture sym­bolizes death and mourning. It is not difficult to see why the posters were not so effective.

Language appropriateness—This theme overlaps with cultural sensitivity; but it deserves special attention because it is often neglected. To be effective, it is not so important that messages be gram­matically correct or expressed in a scientifically appropriate manner but that they convey the take-away message in a way that relates to audiences' way of life and understanding.

Political compatibility—The degree of free expression and transparency varies significantly among countries.    professionals should be able as much as possible to avoid confrontations that could be detrimental to the achievement of the agreed-upon objectives.


Psychological appropriateness—It is imperative that each message resonates with its specific audience. Each message should have a specific appeal that catches audi­ences' attention. Appeals can be diverse in approach and nature. They can be rational—highlighting safety; economic effectiveness, health, and other similar issues, or emotional—appealing to ambition, attraction, fear, embarrassment, romance, or a sense of belonging. 

6. Outputs/Result:

Outputs can include the reach of broadcast or other mass media, message recall, number of household visits,  degree of use of communication skills by workers, number of community action plans developed, etc. Outcomes would be any resulting knowledge or behaviour change in any participant group: parents bringing children for complete vaccination over time, local leaders supporting programme activities through specific actions, more women breastfeeding exclusively, timely care seeking for children with respiratory infections, zero open defecation, more dialogue between adolescents and parents (on specified topics). Impact is the ultimate change in a beneficiary's quality of life such as, lower mortality of neonates, lower rates of child marriage and use of dowry, polio free country, higher school completion rates and improved learning competencies, etc. Many factors beyond communication contribute to these results- less corruption.

The communication strategy will now have accomplished the following: 
■ The participant groups involved in the programme intervention will be identified-primary, secondary and tertiary.
 ■ Through research, which has used as much as possible, community participation, will have revealed a lot about the social and cultural issues influencing participants' behaviours. 
■ The behaviours and practices to promote and change will have become clear. 
■ The channels and media will have been selected according to participants, behaviours and social norms to be changed, complexity of messages, and so on.
■ Communication components will be strategically selected and adapted to achieve each communication objective. 
■ Communication indicators of intermediate outcomes will be identified. The strategy document should be disseminated in the draft stage for comments from the Communication Coordination Group and other key stakeholders; and in its finished form, to a wider circle of stakeholders, counterparts and partners. 


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