Designing a Social and Behavior Change Communication Strategy

Step 3: Communication Objectives

Communication objectives reflect the needs of the intended audience as well as the goals set by the program or funding agency. The objectives are directly related to tackling the core challenge. They clearly and concisely state:

  • The desired change in behavior, social norms, or policies
    What do we want to happen?
  • The intended effect of the change
    How will this change affect the individual, community, and society?
  • The timeframe required for the change
    When do we want these changes?

You will answer these questions by completing four tasks that will enable you to develop communication objectives. Communication objectives will keep your SBCC efforts focused and on track. By linking your objectives to indicators, you can also track progress and demonstrate impact.

What You Need to Know to Get Started

The key to developing strategic communication objectives is keeping them SMART .

A SMART objective is:

SSpecific: Does the objective say who or what is the focus of the effort? Does this objective say what type of change is intended? Does the objective cover only one challenge?

MMeasurable: Can your objective be measured in some way? Does the objective include a verifiable amount or proportion of change expected?

AAppropriate: Is the objective sensitive to audience needs and preferences? Is the objective sensitive to societal norms and expectations?

RRealistic: Can you realistically achieve the objective with the time and resources available? Is the degree of expected change reasonable given these conditions?

TTime-bound: Does the objective state the time period for achieving change?

 


 

Process: Facilitated discussion

Output: Description of desired change in Communication Objectives Table

Each of the primary and influencing audiences will require its own set of communication objectives. Refer to your audience profiles to ensure consistency.

To begin, answer the following questions:

  • What type change do you want each of your audiences to make?
  • What kind of change do you want to happen? This could be a change in behavior, a change in social norms, or a change in policy.
  • Are the desired changes specific and appropriate?
  • Fill in the “Desired Change” column for each of your audience segments in the Final Communication Objectives table below.

Final Communication Objectives

Audience Segment Desired Change How much Change? Barriers to Change Timeframe Final Communication Objective Does objective address barriers? SMART?

Download this chart as a Word document.

Process: Facilitated discussion

Output: Decision on how much change in Communication Objectives Table

To make a reasonable estimate on how much change can be made, consider the overall context of the problem, experiences of similar programs in the past, and the resources and timeframe available.

Context of the problem

Keep in mind the barriers that affect your intended audience. In order to be most effective, your objectives will need to address these barriers. Also think about the facilitators to change and the incentives to change which can be used in your messages to promote the behavior.

  • Refer back to the work done using the Social Ecological Model to consider barriers from all four levels: 1) individual, 2) family and peer network, 3) community and 4) society.
    • What are the barriers to change?
    • What are the incentives not to change?
    • Which of these barriers and/or incentives not to change will you address?
  • Add this information to the “Barriers to Change” column in the Final Communication Objectives table located at the end of this Step.

Prior experiences

  • Examine available research data and reports that describe prior communication programs related to the challenge to be addressed.
    • What changes were achieved?
    • Based on this information, what changes do you think are realistic and feasible?

Resources and timeframe available

  • Consider the resources available and what is manageable within the strategy’s timeframe.
    • Can the objectives be accomplished with the available resources?
    • Are communication approaches sufficient to reach the intended audience?
    • Can services meet increased demand?

Determine the amount of change expected

  • State the existing baseline measure as well as the expected measure:
    • What is the numerical or percentage change expected?
    • Is the amount of change measurable and realistic?
    • If there is no baseline data, use secondary data and grey literature such as technical reports from government agencies or research groups, working papers, white papers, or preprints.
  • Add the amount of change expected under the “How much change?” column in the Final Communication Objectives table located at the end of this Step.

Process: Facilitated discussion

Output: Timeframe for objectives in Communication Objectives Table

  • Identify the timeframe in which change will be achieved. This will ensure your objectives are time-bound.
    • What is the timeframe for your objectives? The can be stated in either months or years.
    • Does the timeframe provide adequate time for change to effectively take place?
    • Is the timeframe realistic?
  • Add this information to the “Timeframe” column in the Final Communication Objectives table.

Final Communication Objectives

Audience Segment Desired Change How much Change? Barriers to Change Timeframe Final Communication Objective Does objective address barriers? SMART?

Download this chart as a Word document.

Final Output for Step 3

Communication objectives

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