PMC 2017 Annual Campaign #getreel

Sizzle Reel: Season 1 of PMC’s East Los High

Every PMC TV or radio show is a unique, customized creation.

PMC’s reproducible formula for creating hit entertainment works across people, places, and media environments and it’s designed to respond to multiple social, health, and environmental challenges. We engage audiences, change ideas, and empower people to make better-informed decisions.

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How is each show constructed?


Based on knowledge of each audience:

Ethnographic and formative research promise relevance and audience appeal. This audience research provides PMC with the realities of audience lives, issues, opportunities, and challenges. It tells us media usage and preferences, and also gives us legal, policy, and services frameworks. Formative research guides character development, storylines, media placement, and issue treatment – including solutions. This is the backbone to making the characters “real,” dynamic people, with different facets to their personality who resonate with target audiences.


Based on behavior change theory:

Understanding how people learn and make decisions, and the factors contributing to their attitudes and behaviors, enables PMC to have far greater insight into how to be successful. Essentially, PMC leverages people’s propensity to develop emotional bonds with fictional characters and to learn from watching others. PMC’s mass-media TV and radio shows follow an issue-based process of the hero’s journey with specific supplementary characters that enable the role modeling of different perspectives, actions, and consequences. The show content is designed to motivate the audience to change (inspire the audience to want to adopt certain behaviors), create self-efficacy (inspire the audience to see that they do have the power/agency to make this individual and social norm change), and build resiliency (handle the disappointments and failures or difficulties that come with change and help them to persevere). See more about how this works by reviewing PMC’s theory of change.


Based on entertainment-industry insight:

PMC shows draw large audiences of people who WANT to watch or listen. This is essential for creating an excitement and willingness to hear all parts of the story, even ones that may be questioning cultural norms. PMC shows engage audiences on their own terms, as beloved entertainment, to address sensitive topics and provide knowledge, improved sense of agency, and the desire to adopt new behavioral options.


Format derived from behavior change theory:

PMC shows are long-running, meaning that the storylines extend over many episodes with “cliff hangers” at the end of each episode. This allows characters to change behavior at a believable, realistic pace, and allows audience members time to change with the story. Audience members can have conversations, and “try out” new behaviors. This is essential for building self-efficacy. The audience has the time to watch the characters face similar struggles – and learn from the characters about how to handle those challenges. The continual cliff hangers inspire self-deliberation, but they also allow the audience time to express their hopes or concern about what’s to come for different characters and their actions, inspiring informal analysis with others about the issues being addressed. This interpersonal communication is a key component for social norm change by inspiring discussion of sensitive issues.


Constant monitoring and evaluation:

PMC conducts continuous monitoring and evaluation of each show throughout broadcast to keep programs on track and to provide learning for current and future programs. Randomized phone surveys are one ongoing component that get feedback about storylines for delivery to the show’s creative and production staff within hours of conducting the survey. Although not statistically significant, these surveys also help provide an ongoing sense of how audience size is changing. Clinic attendance (or other products and services that are being included within a show) can be monitored at specific points in the broadcast to evaluate PMC’s success at driving demand, and at the end of broadcast, PMC conducts an endline assessment based on a statistically representative random sample survey with a 95 percent confidence level that captures quantitative and qualitative analysis. Learn more about Monitoring and Evaluation.



Whether it’s appropriate slang or reference to a popular cultural icon, stories need to be relatable. PMC’s formative research sets the foundation for an audience-focused creative and production process. In addition, PMC conducts a legal and policy framework for every location where we work and hires writers, actors, and production staff from target audiences whenever possible to create highly effective shows. A PMC field team is comprised of specific roles, including local writers, actors, and producers. The team is trained extensively in PMC’s methodology for show creation and for overall operating procedures, including show marketing, monitoring and evaluation, and others. In more complex media markets, PMC sometimes partners with production companies who are then trained extensively in PMC’s methodology and standard operating procedures.


What is Communications for Development (C4D) and Social and Behavior Change Communications (SBCC)?

Communications for Development, or C4D, is a growing field within international development. C4D employs a range of approaches to Social and Behavior Change Communication (SBCC) to effectively connect and empower people. UNICEF defines Communications for Development as “a two-way process for sharing ideas and knowledge using a range of communication tools and approaches that empower individuals and communities to take actions to improve their lives.”

Social and Behavior Change Communications (SBCC) initiatives are communication approaches specifically designed to address societal and individual behavior change. PMC’s entertainment programs are one example. SBCC efforts vary in their format, goals, and scale and, not surprisingly, many SBCC efforts feature short-run, single-issue projects, and direct messaging to achieve immediate outcomes.

PMC chooses to focus on long-running entertaining shows that address multiple, interconnected issues because of the impact this approach can have on deeply embedded personal and social issues. Although a diverse array of SBCC interventions are needed, PMC’s niche is in our focus on difficult issues, our impact measurement, our scale, the variety of issues we can address, and the flexibility of our model to work anywhere with a strong mass media platform. Long-running shows allow us to use a rights-based approach to change individual behavior and create at scale demand generation, while also shifting the larger social norms.

Population Media Center (PMC) has completed broadcast of more than 40 shows in more than 20 languages, helping more than 500 million people live healthier lives in more than 50 countries.

Role models.

Rather than telling people what to do, let them experience it. PMC shows have specially designed positive, negative, and transitional characters. The transitional characters are the ones designed to be like the target audience, navigating difficult choices and the repercussions of different decisions. View our theory of change to see how the audience evolves along with the transitional character.

Theory of Change

Extending Stories and Impact

TV and radio shows are the cornerstone of a larger, comprehensive communication campaign. In addition to the TV or radio show, PMC always executes extensive marketing activities, as well as strategic issue extensions and story extensions. We get audiences to engage with us.


Imagine paying $0.04 USD to reach a person with important health and social messages. Imagine 67% of new health clinic clients saying that they came to seek services because of an entertaining radio show. These are the real implications of PMC TV and radio shows.


View PMC's Impact

PMC TV and radio shows are:


Every PMC show includes monitoring and evaluation to assess scale and depth of impact.


Huge audiences and effectively addressing multiple issues makes PMC shows cost-effective.


Life is multi-dimensional. PMC integrates multiple, interwoven issues to role model realities and tell good stories.


PMC’s intervention is reproducible and agile, working across cultures, languages, religions, and media markets.

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