Identify Influencing Audiences

So far in this unit you have worked on identifying priority audiences and assessing whether they need to be segmented into smaller subgroups. This should have supported you in coming up with the priority audience or audiences for the communication response.

For an SBCC intervention to be the most effective and for behavior change to be promoted among the priority audience or audiences, it is helpful to identify and target influencing audiences too. Influencing or secondary audiences are those individuals who exert influence on and can affect the knowledge, attitudes and practices of the priority audience.

For each priority audience, it is therefore necessary to consider who controls or influences their decisions and behaviors, or the resources required for behavior change. Depending on the priority audience, examples of influencing audiences could include family members, peers, community leaders, local associations and groups, services providers or local authorities.

Thinking of each intended priority audience, the following questions can support the identification and selection of influencing audiences:

  • Who controls/influences the behaviors of each intended audience or the resources required for behavior change?
  • How do the influencing audiences exert their influence on the priority audience?
  • What are the current practices that these influencing audiences engage in with regards to the issue causing the emergency?
  • What are the attitudes, beliefs and knowledge of the influencing audiences about the issue causing the emergency?
  • What might be the barriers to involving these influencing audiences in the communication response?
  • What are the benefits that the influencing audiences can gain from being an intermediary in the communication response?

Assessing who has influence over the decisions and behaviors of priority audiences and analyzing these according to the questions above can highlight the most important influencers. Activities and messages will therefore need to be developed for these influencing audiences too in order to support the behavior change of priority audiences. Examples of activities that can be developed for influencing audiences include:

  • Trainings for local leaders about the issue causing the emergency so that they understand the risks and are motivated to support their communities in engaging in protective practices.
  • Testimonials of individuals who have survived the disease causing the emergency to reassure community members of the importance of seeking rapid medical assistance at the onset of symptoms.
  • Peer educators who can inform their friends and neighbors about the outbreak and discuss protective measures.