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Putting Audiences at the Center of All We Do

Joseph J. Bish, MS May 07, 2019

The roots of Population Media Center’s program design stretch back 50 years. It was in the early 1970’s that Miguel Sabido, VP for Research at the Televisa network in Mexico, concluded that entertaining dramas could do more than generate ratings. They could, if designed properly, also motivate behavior change. For 20 years, Population Media Center has continued to hone and adapt a Theory of Change that benefits greatly from Sabido’s world-changing insights.

Audience research is absolutely fundamental to our success. We study the habits and lifestyles of audiences to determine needs, desires, behaviors, and media usage. This is how we develop relatable, high-quality, culturally resonate characters, engaging storylines, and role models relevant to the audience’s own lives.

But, as we approach the year 2020, we have decided to aggressively invest in our exploratory process, formative research, and program design phases. We want to capitalize on our strengths and identify areas where we can make our business development approach even stronger. Now, thanks to support from Gower Street, a UK charity, and the Population Institute, a US organization, we have been able to pioneer this effort on the ground!

In April, Executive Vice President, David Walker and Stephanie Tholand, PMC’s Director of Program & Partnership Development conducted an exploratory mission to Ghana. But this was not a typical week of exploratory meetings – this trip represented the evolution and expansion of PMC’s business development approach we feel is required for a rapidly changing world.

What David and Stephanie accomplished was a next-generation feasibility study, which will serve as a rigorous guide to our program development in Ghana. We are applying this new approach to the challenge of ensuring all youth – with a particular focus on girls – receive a complete education in northern Ghanaian regions. We are bringing formative research into the exploratory phase in an expanded format, which in turn will allow us to hone-in on the most critical and pressing barriers to social norm and behavior change before we even write the project proposal.  

We are very excited to design new projects through this enhanced exploration, to establish new partnerships, and achieve even greater impact. Stay tuned!