Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) is a critical component of an effective engagement strategy. It will allow practitioners to determine whether their media activities met their objectives, as well as identify how they could adapt their strategy to strengthen their program impact. In the case of the media training, they can use information from the pre- and post-training questionnaire to decide whether or not to continue training the media either on SSFFC malaria medicines or other public health concerns, or how the training may be more effective in the future.
Program staff may want to collect news clippings and recordings from TV/radio stories about SSFFC malaria medicines and conduct a content analysis. To do this, they will want to review each article for themes, but also look at the body of articles for trends that occurred over the course of the program/media engagement activities. They may want to note knowledge gaps and potential next steps based on the findings of this analysis. Learn more about how the Nigeria Case Study analyzed their questionnaire data in the example below.
In the Nigeria Case Study, the trainers from HC3 partner Internews used a pre- and post-training questionnaire to measure and compare any increase in knowledge as a result of the training. The questionnaires contained multiple-choice questions with straightforward answers, as well as a section for open-ended responses. This approach allows for an accurate calculation of scores, with some room for further qualitative evaluation of the extent to which messages had been internalized. The questionnaire can be found here.
- The calculation of the pre- and post-training questionnaire scores from the training in Abuja showed:
- Pre-training malaria and malaria SSFFC knowledge: 54 percent
- Post-training malaria and malaria SSFFC knowledge: 87 percent
- In addition, a simple way to evaluate whether the training had an impact on the journalists’ capacity to report on SSFFC malaria medicines, is to simply count stories by:
- Tracking how many stories produced during the training were printed or aired either during the training or shortly afterwards (e.g., during the first week).
- Using a schedule to stay in touch with journalists, track how many follow-up stories ran in the press or magazines, were posted online or aired on television or radio. These include interviews.
- Engaging an official media monitoring service. However, this can be costly, and it may simply be easier for program staff to track the stories themselves.
Experience is the best teacher. As the HC3 team conducting the journalism training on SSFFC malaria medicines found: despite thorough preparation and planning, there is always something that could have been done better. Here are some of the lessons learned in Abuja.
WHAT WORKED WELL?
The results of the journalism/media survey were used to measure the journalists’ malaria and SSFFC medicine knowledge in proposing or “pitching” stories at an entry level during the first STORY FACTS sessions. Without such a survey, the sessions and story proposal ideas would almost certainly have been too complex.
Technical experts from the NMEP, HC3 and NAFDAC were present for the majority of training sessions. They were present to provide input and follow the learning curve of trainees closely.
Facilitators integrated STORY FACTS and STORY IMPACT sessions into the training. As a result, trainees fully appreciated that a good story must be factually accurate and also be told in a compelling way.
It is intense work to keep a group of journalists engaged (and entertained!) over three or more days. HC3 had two journalist trainers from Internews on hand. They facilitated different strands of the training, while also being supportive of each other. This allowed the team to provide sustained energy throughout three intense days of learning.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN DONE BETTER OR DIFFERENTLY?
The training team relied on a health agency to ensure that either an individual who had had a negative experience with SSFFC malaria medicines was present, or provided such a person’s contact details, to present a case study on Day 2 of the training. However, people who report SSFFC malaria medicines are kept anonymous and the information is confidential. It was therefore not possible for the health agency to identify such a person. Even the drug regulatory authority would probably not have the contact information concerning people who have called into their hotline as it is confidential.
Various stakeholders had input on the selection of trainees. This led to last minute changes in who would be attending, and who would be dropped. This resulted in logistical challenges for the team. Be firm about a cut-off time for changes in trainee selection. It ensures that all trainees and their editors have ample time to make arrangements for the training and have taken ownership of their participation in the event.
Less is always more. The program was adjusted during the course of the training to provide more time for discussion and a revision of lessons learned, as the trainees appeared to need more space and time to absorb all the new information. When the subject matter is complex, err on the side of caution and provide breathing space for learning.
Conclusion and Final Steps for Engaging with the Media
Proactively engaging with the news media, and partnering cooperatively can amplify SBCC campaign messages, and the news media can produce solution-driven stories. After initiating conversations with the media, it is important to further develop and sustain relationships with the journalists in order to get the long-term benefits of this partnership. Some suggestions for maintaining communication includes:
- Find out whether journalists have an online media presence, including social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or Whatsapp. Follow them online.
- If program staff have new and important information, they should call the journalists they know. Or let the news editors know that you have fresh information.
- Forward any new SBCC materials to journalist contacts.
- Stay in touch with the media/journalism associations, by also including them in the dissemination of new SBCC materials.
- Create a Springboard group for participants and check in periodically with updates on the project.
No matter how programs decide to stay in touch, keep in mind that good communication and collaboration with the media can rally support for their SBCC and advocacy campaigns. It can encourage cooperative behavior, and may even help save lives.