How to create a radio campaign
What is a campaign?
A campaign is an organized, time-bound effort to convince institutions or individuals to take specific types of actions, or change their attitudes toward a specific topic in a specific way. Campaigns have specific objectives and usually focus on one major change or action. They can be in the form of radio jingles and interviews, door to door or community gatherings to discuss issues, a series of ads in printed form in either newspapers or brochures, etc. The best campaigns combine a few different mediums to reach as many people as possible.
When should a campaign be used?
A campaign should be used when a radio station or other groups have a specific action or attitude that they think will bring positive change to their community. Campaigns require time, energy, and effort to plan and execute. They take additional effort beyond regular programming if they are to be effective. Collaboration with local organization who work in the areas you are trying to affect change will benefit you and your listeners.
For example, as of March 2022, Malawi had vaccinated less than 10% of its population in over a year of active national vaccination activities. Malawi was far from achieving the 70% vaccination rate they are aiming for. Thus, there is a need for a campaign to increase vaccination. The objective of the campaign will be to encourage the general public - men, women, youth, elderly—to go get vaccinated.
How can a radio campaign help me serve my listeners better?
- A campaign provides listeners with key information that is repeated many times so they can remember it and take action.
- A campaign can raise awareness about products or services, promote attitude change, and deliver a call to action.
- A campaign can stimulate community discussion or reflect discussion that is already taking place in the community.
- When campaign messages are produced in different formats and played in different radio programs throughout the programming schedule, they are more likely to reach the majority of the intended audience whose radio listening habits may be varied.
How can a radio campaign help me produce better programs?
- Campaigns help you gain a better understanding of the intended audience.
- Campaigns help you gain a better understanding of stakeholders and their interests.
- Campaigns are an opportunity to be creative about what formats you use and with which experts you engage. Campaigns require collaboration and teamwork within the station and can pool resources to develop content for multiple programs.
- Campaigns are often produced with the support of external partners, which benefits the station as a whole, and bolsters the way producers generally produce their normal programs.
- Campaigns can draw in listeners to other programs. Program hosts be guests on other programs from their station to discuss campaign topics as well as promote their next episodes.
How do I get started?
- Set the campaign objective(s): A campaign aims to achieve a specific objective. It aims to influence institutions or individuals to take actions toward that objective. A successful campaign objective clearly describes what needs to change, how the campaign would contribute to the desired change, and identifies the campaign stakeholders.
- Know your audience: In order for your campaign to be effective, you need to define and understand target audiences and choose the communication channels, tools, and techniques most likely to reach them. When you understand the audience, they can confidently adapt their messages, processes, and tools to different target audiences, and use differentiated techniques to address all sections of the intended audience.
- Create a slogan: A memorable motto or catchphrase that expresses an idea or purpose. The objective of using a slogan is to persuade the targeted audience to act.
- Develop a strategy: This includes making many decisions – for example, the formats you want to use, how often each format is used, which kinds of programs to be included, what other communications tools will be used, etc.
- The do’s and don’ts of this type of campaign
1. Set the campaign objective(s)
Every campaign starts with an objective: What is your call to action? What are you asking your listeners to do or know or what attitudes are you trying to influence them to adopt? Is this campaign targeted at certain types of listeners? Knowing these things will help you develop messages that resonate with your different audiences.
Ask yourself questions to help clarify what you want to accomplish with your campaign.
Here are some questions that the Association for Women in Development (AWID, 2003) recommend exploring before starting or joining a campaign. FRI has adapted and expanded on them for the purpose of this document:
- Why am I joining/creating this campaign?
- What outcomes am I hoping to achieve? What does success look like?
- Who/what is this campaign supporting?
- Who is supporting the campaign and why?
- What specific decision or action are we trying to encourage people to make or take?
- Is this campaign supported at different levels and grounded in daily struggles which could be enhanced by successfully achieving the campaign's goal?
- Is this campaign exploiting a strategic moment or a particular political venue appropriate to the issue?
- Will the campaign raise people’s awareness and encourage citizen participation in decision-making?
- Will the campaign contribute to the transformation of power relations between men and women? Rich and poor? Herders and farmers? Etc.
- Is there a danger of duplicating or competing with a campaign run by others on the same issue?
- If your organization or alliance doesn't campaign on the issue, will anyone else?
- Would time and resources be better spent by joining an existing campaign with a good track record of success?
- Is this the appropriate time to address the issue? What is the worst that could happen if you do not campaign on the issue at this point?
- Can you or your alliance assemble the necessary resources to campaign on the issue, including the necessary knowledge and skills?
- How does the campaign team feel about the chances of success? (If they think that chances are slim, they need to consider other activities or approaches.)
What are some other questions that you might ask to help define the campaign objectives?
2. Know your audience
Knowing your audience is a key element in the success of your campaign. The more you know about them and their relation to the campaign topic, the more likely you will be to design a campaign that will reach them and convince them to change their attitude or take action.
Gather as much information as you can about your audience, including who listens to which radio programs and your audience's relationship to the campaign topic. If your campaign focuses on a particular audience, for example adult women, focus exclusively on that audience and the programs they listen to. For a station-wide campaign meant to reach everyone, do research on all groups.
Here are a series of questions you can use to create audience profiles for your campaign.
- What is the typical listener of your sports program? Youth program? Music program? Politics program? Farmer program? Health program?
- How do men typically feel about this issue? What will motivate men to take action or change their attitude? What doubts or fears do they have?
- What about women? Is their perspective or experience different than men? Will different things motivate them to take action or change their attitude? Do they face particular barriers? What doubts or fears do they have?
- What about youth? What do they feel about this topic? Will different things motivate them to take action? Do they face particular barriers? What doubts or fears do they have? Do young men and young women have different perspectives, doubts, and fears, and will different things motivate them?
- Do people living in one region have a different relationship to this topic or perspective? Do people of one religion or ethnic group?
- Do people working in certain occupations have a particular perspective on this topic? Are they more or less likely to take action?
For more information, read our Broadcaster how-to guide: https://training.farmradio.fm/how-to-learn-about-your-audience-and-what-audience-members-need-from-your-program/
This information can help you create a communication plan, where you identify which programs and messages you will use to reach specific audiences and motivate them to take action. You can organize this information in a table.
3. Create a slogan
A slogan is a short and memorable phrase, often used in advertising, but also important for campaigns. In advertising, Nike's "Just do it" slogan appears on all of their advertising, as does McDonald's "I'm lovin' it." Barack Obama used “Yes we can!” as his 2008 presidential campaign slogan. The slogan should appeal to the core audience you are trying to reach, although the slogan can be varied for different programs—depending on your audience research. The slogan should include your call to action so that when listeners hear it, they understand your campaign's core message.
If the campaign slogan is to be effective, the core message of your campaign needs to be precise.
The core message should include three things:
- The basic information. (What)
- The reasons or benefits for the action. (Why)
- The desired action. (Now what)
These three parts do not need to be clearly identified in the slogan, but the overall message should address all three. The Australian government used the following slogan to promote good health practices during the COVID-19 pandemic: "We can do this. Together we can stop the spread of COVID-19." A slogan from the Canadian government campaign on COVID-19 was: "We can all help by getting vaccinated." And to encourage kids to be vaccinated, the Canadian government used the slogan: "It's time for kids to make memories again." Now that many people have been vaccinated, the Canadian government is using the following core message: "We've found our rhythm for staying well. So let’s keep up the good work by following public health measures."
Several African organizations, including Speak Up Africa, CAF, African Media Agency, and others, joined together during COVID-19 for a campaign under the slogan "Stay Safe Africa." https://staysafeafrica.org/ As part of the campaign, they also ran a smaller campaign promoting face masks, using the social media hashtag #ShowOffYourMask.
In DRC, several radio stations have joined together on a campaign to mobilize youth to engage with radio—hosting their own radio programs, sharing their voices on air, etc. The campaign is called "Watoto Radio" https://yenkasa.org/fr/watoto-radio-une-campagne-pour-faire-entendre-les-enfants-a-lantenne/ which means "radio for children" in Swahili. It aims to increase children's access to radio and give a voice to children living in areas with low internet penetration.
4. Develop a strategy
A. Message strategy: Appeal (message), approach (delivery), messenger (person)
You will need to develop a message strategy. You've identified key information (what), its relevance to the audience (so what), and the call for action (now what). Now you can consider the appeal, the tone, the approach, and the messenger.
The appeal is defined as the different variations of the core message that will best influence different audiences. The delivery is defined as which program is best suited to reach which audience, and which formats might be useful for delivering the message. This is where you can also consider what tone would be best. Is humour appropriate? Do you need to take a more serious tone? Etc. If some messages are more complex or require more nuanced conversation, you may need to use longer format at different times during the campaign. On the other hand, if you mainly need to raise awareness and have people remember key information, you might choose a shorter or more entertaining format.
You can also experiment with which messenger delivers your core messages. For example, by broadcasting segments on different programs, you can experiment with which broadcasters to involve and which guests can share core messages. You can also experiment with which celebrities can record radio spots. Different messengers will be more influential with different audiences. Religious leaders may be more influential with members of their religion, while musicians or athletes might be more influential with younger people. Should the message be delivered by a man or a woman? A young or an older person? Etc.
As you experiment, it is a good idea to keep one element stable in all the different segments. This could be your slogan or tagline, which helps listeners identify that the segments are part of a campaign.
It's also a good idea to use a positive approach. Positive messages will have a stronger effect and be better at motivating action than negative appeals that emphasize harm or shame. Always show the incentives or benefits of taking action. There can be many incentives, so consider how different audiences relate to those incentives. Provide evidence and the stories of people who model good behaviour. If you are presenting consequences of unfavourable behaviours it must be done respectfully and avoid the perpetuation of negative stereotypes.
For more information on developing messages strategy, see: https://foodarc.ca/makefoodmatter/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/Develop_the_Message_Strategy.pdf
Repetition is an essential part of a campaign, and helps ensure that the message sticks in listeners' minds. It's generally understood that listeners need to hear a message many times in order to remember it and take action. How many times is too many? During one segment, perhaps two or three times is ideal, just to ensure that everyone remembers without trying their patience. But radio spots can be repeated many, many times, particularly at different times of the day, as this is how you will reach different kinds of listeners!
Campaign can use many formats. Here we will discuss some of the most useful formats for a campaign.
For a full list of formats, please see this Broadcaster how-to guide: https://training.farmradio.fm/radio-formats/
I. Radio spots, jingles, public service announcements
Spots are short (normally 15-60 second), “catchy” presentations or announcements that communicate a single, clear message. They are widely used in marketing and public service announcements as they are effective for delivering a specific message. Radio spots can be relatively inexpensive and easy to create.
A well-produced spot can be used over and over again. Spots can be inserted during a quick break in a program or between programs. By repeating a radio spot at different times of the day, you can ensure that different listeners hear it. And by repeating a radio spot over multiple days or weeks, you can ensure that listeners remember the message. Some listeners remember a phone number or slogan they heard 10 years ago! That’s why radio spots are the backbone of a campaign.
Campaigns can have one radio spot, jingle, or public service announcement that is aired multiple times, or you can develop several radio spots that communicate different variations of your campaign message.
For more information on creating radio spots, see our Broadcaster how-to guide: https://training.farmradio.fm/how-to-create-radio-spots/
II. Interviews: How to use (when, how frequently, length, messages)
Interviews are the backbone of many programs. They typically involve the host asking a guest questions in order to prompt them to provide useful information or comments. Interviews are great because they allow people to dig into more detailed information and share a wide range of stories and emotions.
By interviewing a variety of people on the campaign theme and broadcasting the interviews on different episodes, you can expose your audience to your campaign messages several times, from several different voices and perspectives. It can be helpful to hear different people's perspectives and stories on the issue. Make sure your guests are appealing to the listeners of the program, and have something important to say about the campaign theme. For example, if you are interviewing guests as part of a campaign about vaccine confidence, you should know beforehand that they are vaccinated and are encouraging other people to be vaccinated.
Interviews can vary in length from a couple of minutes to a whole hour-long program. However, when they are part of a campaign, interview should focus on several key questions related to the campaign theme. Write out these key questions, but also allow yourself time during the interview to ask follow-up questions so that the guest can clarify details or emphasize key points.
Interviews can be used as part of a campaign in many ways. A campaign could involve:
- A weekly interview with the same person to elaborate on the campaign theme.
- A weekly interview (at the same time) on the same topic, but with different guests each week. You can use the same questions in each interview, or you can ask different questions that allow people to share their expertise and stories.
- Interview segments on different programs, with different guests, but centered on the campaign topic.
In the introduction and conclusion to the interview, the host should refer to the campaign theme and slogan so that the audience knows the interview is part of the campaign.
You can also do group interviews. Panel discussions allow multiple guests to express their views on a topic in the same segment. During panel discussions, the host interviews several guests. This is most effective if the guests have slightly different perspectives or can address their comments to each other as well as the host. An effective panel discussion is more of a discussion than an interview, and the host is more of a moderator than questioner.
III. Interactive segments
A phone-in or text-in program is a great way to engage your listeners on a topic and can help them to understand how they feel about an issue. In this format, the host invites listeners to call or text the radio station to express their view on air. This works best when the host frames the topic in a question that is related to the campaign messages.
This can be an effective format in a campaign, but it can raise challenges. If your listeners largely agree with the campaign messages, this format can reinforce your campaign messages in listeners' own voices. However, some listeners may disagree with your messages. Acknowledge your listeners’ views respectfully and thank them for their time. They may well be expressing common barriers to taking the actions desired by the campaign. Have an expert guest at hand to respectfully address these barriers and show how, despite the listeners’ concerns, the best overall course is to take the action recommended by the campaign (for example, get vaccinated despite fears spread by misinformation.) Never belittle or trivialize listeners’ concerns.
Vox pops is another format that allows listeners to engage with the campaign message and share their own experiences or views on the topic. Some vox pops can voice common concerns or disagreements. Having an expert on hand to address those immediately will strengthen your campaign. Remember to tell your listeners when you introduce the clips that they are a sample of the voices of listeners, Don't imply that this is what everyone thinks one way or the other. If you only include the voices of people who agree with the campaign messages, it might seem odd to listeners who have concerns. They may not listen or be convinced if they sense that only the voices who agree will be heard on the air.
IV. Entertaining segments
Songs can also be a fun way to share campaign messages. Songs add diversity and entertainment, reflect the listeners' culture, stimulate an emotional response, and help listeners remember complex information. Poems or raps can also be used in this way.
Dramas are an effective way to capture listeners' imagination and encourage them to take action. It's why many advertisements tell a story. Full-length or serial dramas may be too costly to produce for a campaign, but shorter dramas with 2-5 characters can be useful, or a mini-drama series of short (2-5 minute) episodes that advance a story or show a character’s experience with lively or even comic dialogue. Drama is also a key element in many radio spots.
Quizzes or competitions are another fun way to engage your audience and ensure they receive important information related to your campaign. You can quiz them on the key information you have shared and even challenge your listeners to submit slogans, songs, or poems related to the campaign messages.
V. Other segments
A scripted list or monologue can be essential in a campaign if there is precise information to share. Often, such precise information is essential for your listeners to take action on your campaign goal! In a campaign promoting vaccination, this might include the dates, times, and locations of vaccine clinics where listeners can be vaccinated. By reading the list clearly on several programs, you can ensure that as many listeners as possible have this important information to take action.
A host monologue or diary can also be useful for sharing one person's intimate experience of the topic at hand – either that of the host or another person. Both are opportunities for the host or diarist to talk about their own experience, with no intermediary or interviewer. This segment is typically 5-7 minutes long and shares an extraordinary experience or life story.
When developing this segment, it's important to work with the host or diarist to think through their personal story and how to tell it. In a vaccine campaign, a diary can be an effective way to share the experience of someone who suffered an illness and perhaps encourage others to avoid illness by getting vaccinated. A host monologue can be similarly motivating by sharing the host's experience with the disease or decision to get vaccinated.
D. Integration / synergy with social media
Being active on social media is a great way to ensure your campaign messaging reaches more people more often. Share your campaign messages with listeners via WhatsApp, Facebook, or Twitter. The easiest way to do this it to share the text of your radio spots or slogan on social media, perhaps with an image. The image can be a graphic that combines the campaign icon and the station logo, or with your slogan written out (if it is short). Social media is also a great way to encourage people to tune in at the right time to hear an important interview related to your campaign, so make sure you advertise these interviews! You can even share clips from key campaign interviews on social media. Finally, if you have key information that can help your listeners take action, for example, the dates and locations of vaccine clinics, share this information on social media as well so that people can access it at any time. You should also let your listeners know, on air, that they can find a full list of dates and locations of vaccine clinics on your Facebook page. This will reduce the stress of needing to remember all the information you share on the air.
E. Using multiple programs in a campaign
It can be helpful to use multiple programs at your radio station so that all your listeners hear the messages of the campaign. If all programs cover the campaign topic, try to ensure that your listeners are aware of the campaign by using a common sound and slogan.
As you design segments for different programs, remember to think about audience, message, delivery, and messenger.
Here are some examples of how a variety of radio programs can be included in a campaign on COVID-19 vaccine confidence.
If you have a radio program that focuses on health ...
You can use FRI's radio resources on COVID-19, World Health Organization (WHO) materials, and practical information from your Ministry of Health to encourage your audience to get vaccinated. This information can be included in radio spots that air during every episode of the health program, or perhaps as part of a regular "tips" segment. You can also include interviews with health workers on a variety of topics, including: the differences in severity of infection between those who have been vaccinated and those who have not; common questions or concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine; and how to access the COVID-19 vaccine. You can also interview fully-vaccinated individuals about why they got vaccinated, or their experience with COVID-19 after vaccination.
If you have a radio program that focuses on education …
You can highlight the simple fact that one needs to be healthy to pursue an education. Plan interviews with officials on the rules at schools to keep students and faculty safe, or plans for continuing schooling in case of a disease outbreak. You could ask Ministry of Education officials to share their plans to ensure that teachers and students get COVID-19 vaccines. You can also do interviews or vox pops with students and teachers, sharing their views on whether they will be vaccinated and why. If many students are hesitant about being vaccinated, this segment can precede an interview with a health or education official who addresses students' concerns.
If you have a sports radio program …
You can emphasize the importance of good health for strong athletes, and the fact that the COVID-19 vaccine supports good health. Your programming can include interviews and testimonies with local athletes who are fully vaccinated and are urging listeners to do likewise to support good health. You could also interview an athlete who had COVID-19 and discuss the impact of the disease on her or his training and long-term health. You could also prepare radio spots and jingles in which fully-vaccinated elite athletes urge listeners to get vaccinated and live a vibrant, healthy, sporty future free from worrying about possible hospitalization from COVID-19. You could also organize interviews with the ministry responsible for sports and national sports bodies to discuss their plans to ensure that athletes and fans are vaccinated. Additionally, you could use vox pops or interviews with fans attending a local match about following public health measures, such as wearing a mask.
If you have a political radio program …
Political radio programs should feature the voices of local political leaders (because they have the most influence) explaining their decision to receive the vaccine and their experience of getting vaccinated. Feature both ruling and opposition politicians to satisfy your listeners’ needs. This ensures that you reach the maximum number of listeners in your coverage area who belong to different political groups. Interviews or radio spots can be useful to convey these messages.
Political programs also reach a wide audience and can be a great place to discuss another important aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic: fake news. Interview health experts on various myths and misconceptions about the vaccine. This can be a regular segment that addresses "myths of the week," or a one-off feature. Consider also conducting interviews with experts on how or why misinformation is spread, and on its potential impact on politics or other key issues.
If you have an entertainment radio program …
Entertainment radio programs include music and musicians, drama and dramatists, poets, and others. Try to get popular entertainers to talk about the importance of vaccines, their experiences after being vaccinated, and to generally promote COVID-19 vaccines. Their popularity could significantly influence your listeners. This can be done through spots, interviews, music, poems, dramas, or any other format. These segments could also be played on other programs—whenever the artists' fans might be listening. This ensures that the radio station takes full advantage of entertainers’ creativity.
In Malawi, for example, musicians have already created songs about issues related to COVID-19, including handwashing, distancing, face-masking, and other precautions. Make sure that, in addition to using these already-produced materials, you also talk to some entertainers on a personal level about their vaccination experiences and have encourage others to get vaccinated.
If you have a religious radio program …
Talk about the importance of being alive and healthy as one of the desires of the creator. Look for influential religious leaders in the station’s catchment area who have received the vaccine and can encourage their followers to get vaccinated as well. You could interview them about their confidence in the vaccine and their place of work’s plans to keep its community safe during ceremonies. If possible, they could also dispel rumours and misinformation that the COVID-19 vaccine is the biblical beast (666). Feature religious leaders in radio spots and make sure that you use leaders from all the religions and denominations in your radio’s catchment area. It is important to give an opportunity to every religion/denomination to ensure that every listener receives the message from their religious leaders; many may not take a message from a leader of a different religion/denomination seriously.
If you have a radio program that focuses on fake news …
Some radio stations have special programs on fake news which inform their listeners about accurate information. If you have such a program, you can address misinformation about COVID-19 in general, and about the vaccine in particular. You could involve interview experts in order to dispel rumours and replace them with correct information. Some popular myths about the COVID-19 vaccine are that it is the sign of the beast (666), or that when you get vaccinated, you become infertile. Think about the best way to dispel these rumours. Perhaps a health expert will give accurate information, but religious leaders may be better positioned to dispel the “666” rumour, while a fully-vaccinated could discuss that they have recently given birth to a child, even twins in their family!
If you have a program for youth …
You could include interviews with youth advocates for the vaccine about their decision to get vaccinated and their message for other youth. Some youth may have particular hesitancies with regards to the vaccine, particular concerning fertility or simply safety given that the vaccine was originally available to adults only. Address these concerns through interviews. You can also use radio spots with the voices of influential people—community leaders, youth activists, musicians, or other influencers. Drama and music can also be a fun way to encourage youth to get vaccinated, and competitions or quizzes can be a fun way to engage youth on the topic. Perhaps encourage listeners to share a rap or poem about the COVID-19 vaccine by either calling the station or sharing on social media.
If you have a program for women …
Your women's program can be a great place to address women's particular concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine and other health measures. Women may face additional barriers to getting vaccinated or have different concerns. A call-in program or interviews with expert guests can help address these concerns. Radio spots, music, or drama can be fun ways to share the key messages of your campaign. Think about women leaders who may be influential with this audience.
As you can see, by using multiple programs, formats and voices at your radio station, all of your listeners will have the opportunity to hear the campaign messages. A campaign is a great opportunity to be creative. But, ensure that you use a common slogan and/or introduction and signature tune to tie your campaign together, particularly when introducing and concluding interview segments.
For example, in the COVID-19 vaccine confidence campaign, you could start interviews in all programs and with all guests, by saying, "Today we have an interview with [person] about [an issue related to vaccination]. This is part of [our station's] campaign to encourage all of our listeners to protect themselves and prevent COVID-19 by being vaccinated. We hope that you are vaccinated, and if you are not, we hope that you contact your local health centre to get your vaccine. And now, let me introduce …"
5. The Do’s and Don’ts of this type of campaign
Do's of a campaign
We have covered many of the Do’s of a campaign already in this document. Here are a few other things to keep in mind.
Combine channels and approaches: Combine different communication channels, techniques, and tools to target audiences in various settings and situations. Radio messages delivered in different formats are more likely to prompt behaviour change when combined with interpersonal interventions in partnership with, for example, places of worship such as churches or mosques, community organizations, health providers, and schools.
Use new communications technologies: Technology is updated regularly, keeping up with new technologies is important. The internet and other modern technologies, including social media networks, online meeting tools, YouTube, text messaging, Skype etc., are becoming popular. Familiarizing yourself with how these work, exploiting their potential for conveying messages rapidly to mass audiences, and mobilizing for quick action can significantly benefit a campaign.
Pre-test: Ensure that you check and re-check all messaging and communication materials with stakeholders, partners, and members of your target audiences through consultations, focus groups, feedback sessions, etc. to ensure that the materials produce the intended outcome. Study other campaigns and how they reached similar target audiences. Consider copying successful elements of those campaigns.
Be direct and straightforward: A straightforward message that calls for explicit action has a better chance of being understood than complex, multiple messages.
Value stakeholders' and target audiences' existing efforts to achieve your campaign goal: Show how your campaign can complement or build on these efforts and help stakeholders and target audiences reach their goals. The best way to guarantee support from stakeholders is to show that your campaign is about helping them achieve their goal(s).
Be prepared for the unexpected: During the campaign, regularly monitor the environment for the impact of your interventions – both negative and positive. Be ready to adjust accordingly. Any unexpected developments should trigger response messaging that reacts quickly to seize opportunities or mitigate crises. The communications strategy should outline potential unforeseen scenarios during the preparation stage and create relevant action plans to respond decisively.
Respect ethics: Ensure that messages and their delivery are gender-sensitive and consistent with human rights. Campaign messages should avoid reinforcing negative stereotypes about women and men and their roles. Focus on the concerns of those who face multiple discriminations (e.g., because of gender, class, disability, age, religion or ethnicity) by involving them in planning your communication strategy and enabling their participation in campaign events (e.g., by providing sign language translation when appropriate).
Don'ts of a campaign
Do not betray gender sensitivity or ethical principles to get more attention. For instance, avoid using culturally-insensitive language or displaying sensationalized images.
Do not exclude people affected by multiple discriminations from campaign activities, whether deliberately or by unintended omission. For instance, if the campaign is about ending gender-based violence, do not push away those who perpetrate it; instead, find a way to include them as part of the solution.
Avoid adopting a hostile or aggressive stance against a section of the society, for example, by blaming all religions for COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, or by belittling or disparaging the work of others who are working to achieve the campaign's objective, even if their efforts have reaped little success. Instead, build on others’ experience and explore constructive approaches to improve existing efforts and correct any missteps.
Do not get distracted by whims or ploys. Just because a communication channel or tool appears attractive (e.g., radio jingles, SMS campaigning, or proposals by companies for free campaigning in exchange for marketing their products), does not mean that it is appropriate for your particular campaign. Overhyped communications activities can sometimes backfire, distracting or turning your target audience away from your core message. It is vital to research the benefits and consequences of different channels and tools to see if these will work in your context and to your advantage.
Do not perpetuate misinformation. While everyone should be entitled to their opinion and free to contribute to public debate, it is extremely important that journalists and broadcasters are skilled at differentiating between fake news and information that is legitimately newsworthy. It is also important that journalists and broadcasters make sound decisions about how much air time they give to different opinions and different groups. For example, while it is true that everyone has the right to their own opinion, with respect to scientific issues such as climate change, the opinions of legitimate climate scientists hold more weight than those of non-scientists, and your broadcasts should reflect that.
The public depends on broadcasters like you for accurate information about what’s going on in your village, town, city, or region. So it’s your responsibility to take the time to gather the facts before you report on a story. Otherwise, your listeners could turn to a more unreliable source with far less local knowledge, and that may result in them being misinformed.
For more information on this you can read FRI’s Broadcaster how-to guide on fake news: https://training.farmradio.fm/fake-news-how-to-identify-it-and-what-to-do-about-it/
Contributed by: Patrick Mphaka, Networking Officer, Malawi; Mawulikplimi Affognon, Networking Officer, Togo; Sylvie Harrison, Manager, Radio Craft; and Kathryn Burnham, Radio Network Services Manager.
This resource is funded by the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada as part of the Life-saving Public Health and Vaccine Communication at Scale in sub-Saharan Africa (or VACS) project.