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Implementing the Method

The first step in project development is research to determine the knowledge, attitudes, and experiences related to the issues to be addressed in the media strategy.

The steps involved in carrying out a PMC project are as follows:

  1. A PMC team will conduct initial and/or follow-up visits to the country to evaluate needs and capacities for a media-based intervention.

    These visits will allow the PMC team to work with local counterparts to:

    • assess current and recent media programming on the topic(s) to be addressed by the PMC program;
    • learn of the government’s plans for programs dealing with the topic(s) that is (are) to be addressed by the PMC program, including any media activities;
    • learn generally about the broadcast programs that are on the air and obtain information on audience size that exists regarding these programs;
    • reach initial agreement with the relevant government ministries and the broadcast system regarding a plan of action for development of a media campaign;
    • identify potential collaborators from the nongovernmental organization sector, government ministries, and international organizations operating in the country;
    • identify potential candidates for the position of PMC country or regional representative;
    • identify leads for a producer and scriptwriters of a PMC serialized drama and discuss with them their interest and potential involvement;
    • identify and interview research organizations that may collaborate with PMC in conducting the literature review, carrying out formative research and carrying out evaluative research;
    • develop a budget for research, production and broadcast of the communications initiative; and
    • develop plans for follow-up activities after the trip.
  2. Identify potential funding sources and secure funding for the in-country expenses of formative research and serial drama production. This may include a combination of international donor agencies, bilateral funding sources, and commercial entities as commercial sponsors of the program.

  3. In collaboration with a research institution in-country, design and carry out formative research to help shape the communications program. The analysis will include:
    • a literature review of published reports analyzing the effects of the culture on decisions concerning the issue(s) to be addressed by the PMC program;
    • the positive and negative roles that the mass media and folk media have played with regard to these issues; the current situation with regard to availability of relevant medical services throughout the country;
    • prevailing attitudes about the issue(s) to be addressed by the PMC program; and
    • information gaps among members of the target audience about the issue(s) to be addressed by the PMC program.

    Often existing research documents, such as the findings of Demographic and Health Surveys, will provide much of the information that is needed to set an overall communication strategy. For example, a literature review may show the relative importance of various reasons for high incidence of sexual risk behaviors.

    The formative research will also assess whether there are any barriers to effective use of the mass media for promoting reproductive health, sexual risk reduction, and related social and health goals. This will include:

    • an assessment of the reach of the radio and television systems throughout the country;
    • the availability of proper equipment and power supply for broadcast during key times;
    • attitudes among the key leaders of each broadcast station regarding the issues to be addressed in the program;
    • the continuity of broadcast programs and personnel at the stations; and the openness to initiating new programs, such as serial dramas, as a means of promoting health and social development in the country.

    The formative research will also involve an assessment of the opportunities and pressure points within the country regarding the possibility of collaborating with producers of existing entertainment and information programs to incorporate content related to reproductive health and disease prevention.

    Original qualitative research will include a series of focus groups and personal interviews with potential audience members to determine their attitudes and behaviors regarding the issues to be addressed in the program.

  4. During the formative research, PMC will form an Advisory Committee with representatives of relevant ministries, nongovernmental organizations and other institutions to ensure that producers and writers have appropriate factual information regarding the issue(s) to be addressed by the PMC program and to help bring about coordination of the social and health services infrastructure with the media campaign.

  5. The PMC team will hold an in-depth workshop of three to four weeks to train producers and writers of the proposed program in the details of the Sabido methodology for creation of a social-content serial drama. The training workshop will also allow for an in-depth presentation of the findings of the formative research and assessment of their relevance for the design of characters and storylines for a serialized drama. During the workshop, participants will design settings, characters and storylines around the major themes of the drama. The last week of the workshop involves writing and production of pilot episodes, which are then pre-tested with members of the target audience.
  6. The PMC team will also hold a series of meetings with producers of existing entertainment programs on radio and television to encourage them to incorporate values into their programs related to the issue(s) to be addressed by the PMC program. These meetings may include one-day gatherings of producers with a series of speakers from the international entertainment community to emphasize the importance of entertainment broadcasters adopting responsibility for promoting safe sexual practices.

  7. PMC will then work with the creative team and the field research institution to design and carry out a field test of the pilot episodes with focus groups, and will then assist the writers in fine-tuning the scripts in preparation for a full production schedule.
  8. It is anticipated that each serial drama creative team will write and produce 30 episodes prior to the initiation of broadcasts. PMC technical staff will meet at least quarterly with the production and writing team during this period and will be available for consultation by telephone at other times.

  9. Prior to the initiation of broadcasting, PMC will assist the broadcaster to organize a promotional campaign to raise awareness of the upcoming program and to encourage people to tune in.

  10. The selected in-country research institution will carry out baseline research to measure prevailing attitudes and behavior with regard to sexual and reproductive health issues prior to the broadcast of the programs and post-broadcast research to evaluate the effects of the project on attitudes and behavior.

  11. The Advisory Committee representatives of government ministries, NGOs and other institutions will meet regularly to review program content and to coordinate with the provision of services that will be demanded as a result of the programs.

  12. Health service providers will be recruited to ask new reproductive health clients what motivated their decision to seek services and whether the clients are listening to one of PMC’s programs. They will also be asked to provide data on client numbers by month to PMC. To the extent that clients cite one of PMC’s programs as the source of their decision to seek services, this data will provide direct evidence of behavior change resulting from PMC’s programs.

The timeline for the above activities is, in part, dependent upon the response of the governmental and broadcast authorities. Generally, the activities up through the baseline research can be completed in the eight to twelve months of a project. The broadcast of the resulting programs is anticipated to begin toward the end of the first year and to continue for at least two years.


2010/2011 Annual Report

In 2010-2011, PMC had projects in Brazil, Burkina Faso, Caribbean, Ethiopia, Mexico, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Senegal, Sierra Leone, the United States, Vietnam and a worldwide electronic game.

2010/2011 Annual Report (PDF, 5.5 MB)

Soap Operas for Social Change to Prevent HIV/AIDS

This training guide is designed to be used by journalists and media personnel to plan and execute the production and broadcast of Sabido-style entertainment-education serial dramas for HIV/AIDS prevention, especially among women and girls.

Using the Media to Achieve Reproductive Health and Gender Equity

In 2005, as a companion piece to the training guide, PMC developed a manual documenting best practices in the application of the Sabido methodology of behavior change via entertainment-education.

Read more about these guides and download »