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close this book Audio-Visual Communication Handbook
close this folder Using media
View the document In the classroom
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In the community

Media can contribute to communication in the community as well as in the classroom. Programs in agriculture, health, family planning, community development, and cooperatives can all be more effective when a variety of media is used. Many of the ideas that have been found effective in the classroom can be adapted for informal group presentations.

Frequently, in dealing with adult groups, the audience is relatively large, and may be scattered over a wide geographical area. Also the subject being communicated may be complex. In such cases a "campaign" with a positive approach to the subject may be most effective. Spot announcements over radio, newspaper ads or simple posters can attract attention.


Demonstrations, slide shows, films, puppets or plays can impart information. Experts in the field can be used to reinforce presentations. Printed materials such as leaflets can be used to follow up the presentations. Audience consideration determines the selection of media. What may work well in one culture may be out of place in another.

Before planning the media to be used in a campaign, try to find answers to a number of questions, as for example:

- What per cent of the audience can read?

- What per cent have radios?

- Will radio spot-announcements of a coming event reach more people than a wide dispersal of announcement posters?

- To what medium are the people most likely to respond favorably? Have they previously had an unpleasant (or pleasant) experience with a particular medium? For example, an unpleasant experience with an earlier film presentation which depicted them in an unfavorable light may make them unresponsive to the announcement of an evening film program.

When using a campaign approach to meet a community problem, a unified approach can help make the communications more effective. This is a common technique in advertising where symbols such as the famous dog and phonograph or well-known slogans immediately bring other ideas to mind.

Watch the choice of symbols. It is easy to choose one that has meanings other than the one intended. In Africa one campaign had to be completely redesigned because the original symbol used on posters and leaflets was mistaken by many for the symbol of a political party.

Human symbols have also been used effectively in many places. The idea of Mr. Good Farmer and Mr. Bad Farmer translated into the appropriate local terms is often useful. Mr. Good Farmer does everything properly and is rewarded with health and wealth. Mr. Bad Farmer does everything poorly and is stuck with poverty and misery. Exercise care in portraying Mr. Bad Farmer so he does not resemble anyone in the intended audience. In many cultures there are local versions of Mr. Bad and Mr. Good that can be readily adapted.


Another type of characterization to carry through in a "cleanliness" campaign might be that of the "Delves Dirty Paws" type. She never washes her hands and consequently gets diseases that could be avoided.

Such characters can be used in leaflets, puppet shows, dramatic presentations, and filmstrips; on posters and flip charts; or in radio shows, if distinct voice differences are maintained.

The use of several media to complement and supplement each other in a "campaign" approach is important. In a campaign approach, the same message is simply told with a variety of media. Some of the best applications of this approach have been carried out successfully in the area of health. The campaign approach was successful in India and Pakistan to help solve complicated problems of family planning. An outline of some communications factors in family planning is included in Appendix 3. Such a list cannot be adopted verbatim for use in another culture but can be adapted to serve as a basis for planning in other places.


Campaigns have been carried out in many places to promote the consumption of protein-rich food which can be transported, sorted, and provided at a cost within the economic means of the millions of people who need protein. The following are some of the techniques that have been used in these campaigns.


- Flannel board presentations depicting the food triangle of health, energy, and body building foods can teach the importance of protein-rich foods in diets.

- Public address systems in a market area can create interest and communicate information about diet and nutrition to a large segment of the population. In some cultures, the church is a good place to reach large numbers of people for announcements of coming events.

- Film presentations usually will attract crowds. In one country, cartoon-entertainment films were shown as part of a campaign to improve diets. Part of the entertainment film was shown, followed by a doctor's lecture about the values of eating protein-rich foods. Then the remainder of the film was shown. This effective attention-getting strategy is adaptable in many places.

- A puppet play, especially written for a campaign to improve nutritional standards in Mexico, effectively portrayed characters representative of those found in the community.

- Posters can announce various campaign activities and can remind people that a campaign is in progress.


- Demonstrations of ways to cook fish or other high protein foods can be given at agricultural or health shows or at the market place.

- Leaflets can be produced to describe the values of high protein foods, list sources for such foods, and suggest ways of cooking them.

- Exhibits, set up in the market or at an agricultural fair, can display high protein foods and emphasize their value in the diets of children and adults.

- Plays or skits can be presented at public meetings.

- Newspaper advertisements and radio spot-announcements will keep the public aware of an on-going campaign. Use them to emphasize important points.

- Exhibits, set up in the market or at an agricultural fair, can display high protein foods and emphasize their value in the diets of children and adults.


- Booklets describing the values and sources of protein-rich foods can supplement other materials in literacy programs.

- Games similar to Bingo or Lotto in which foods are matched to their functions can be designed. Similarly, simple crossword puzzles are effective with literate audiences. The clues should relate to specific local foods and their functions.

- Campaign themes can use characterizations such as "Delves Dirty Paws" who never washes her hands or "folly Protein-Poor" who changes her family's diet to include more protein each day.

A few ideas that have been successful in the area of agriculture are:

- Demonstrations frequently are used to communicate steps of a specific process such as fertilizer application or egg sorting. Announce demonstrations in advance with posters or by one of the local news media. A realistic demonstration provides opportunities for audience feedback through discussions or question-answer periods.


- Photographs can have many uses in a campaign, especially when the pictures are taken of people and activities in the immediate community. Almost everyone likes to see photographs of himself, his family, and his friends. Pictures taken locally have greater credibility than those taken elsewhere.


- Flip charts, flannel board presentations, filmstrips or slide sets can be used to supplement a demonstration. These media all have similar characteristics and are useful for teaching planting or harvesting techniques as well as steps in canning or preserving foods. For example, many filmstrips have been made by photographing the pages of a good flip chart or the steps in a flannel board presentation. Which to use depends on the audience as well as the availability of materials.

- Leaflets are useful supplements to demonstrations. The audience can keep them as a constant reminder of details of the techniques that have been taught. If illustrations are made carefully and captions are minimized, even illiterate audiences can understand and remember them after a demonstration.

- Characterizations, such as the previously mentioned Mr. Good Farmer and Mr. Bad Farmer, could be adapted to compare Mr. Wise Spender with Mr. Foolish Spender.

- Village market days can become an integral part of a campaign. One per son concerned with developing cooperatives took pictures of leather workers at a government sponsored co-op, shoppers in a co-op store, and participants in a co-op loan program.

These pictures were enlarged, mounted on heavy cardboard for protection, and attached to a rope display that served as an informative and decorative back ground for a display of co-op projects.


- Flannel board presentations were used by one co-op worker who was concerned with the problems of lending money to farmers for the purchase of seed and fertilizer. Stories were written about the evils of the money lender and the advantages of borrowing needed capital from the co-opt Figures in bright colors on thin cardboard illustrated the story. Presentations were made to many groups and the response was always enthusiastic. To supplement these flannel board presentations, silk-screened posters were placed in prominent locations in the village to remind villagers of the services of their co-opt In addition, leaflets repeating the basic story were duplicated and distributed.


No matter what techniques are used in a campaign, evaluation should be conducted for each step. Pretest materials and presentation strategies with a sample of the audience before launching the campaign in full. The questions below can be used in the pretest and the evaluation. Reassess the objectives:

Were the objectives realistic?

Were they kept in mind as the campaign progressed?

Should they have been expanded or limited?

Were they in line with audience needs?

It is particularly important to evaluate the presentations, strategy used, and the selection and organization of information. Such questions as the following might be asked: Are more women coming to the Health Center as a result of the campaign?

Are more farmers using fertilizers now?

Could opinion leaders have been used more effectively?

Could the campaign have been made more successful had someone from the Health Office participated?

Which presentations seemed to be most successful?

Should an alternate strategy have been tried when one particular strategy failed?

Could other organizations of the various media and presentations have been used?

If you were putting on this campaign again, what would you do differently?

Asking questions such as those above and finding answers, even partial ones, will provide a basis for improving future efforts. Involve coworkers in the evaluation and encourage them to evaluate their own efforts in the campaign.