Serial Drama Monitoring and Evaluation

PMC conducts continuous monitoring and evaluation relating to perception of the drama and impact of the drama throughout broadcast in order to keep track of the listeners’ resulting thought or behavior changes. Through monitoring, scriptwriters can see what has been working and what has not, what people like and what they do not, and alter future scripts as needed. Monitoring and evaluation during broadcast compliments the formative research and the endline assessment that are also conducted. Monitoring is done in multiple ways:

Listener Groups
PMC often sets up a listener group system, with country staff traveling to different sections of the broadcast area to get direct feedback from a listener group. Sometimes these listener groups, or individuals in the listener group, also keep listener diaries. The listener groups vary in their format, but the goal is to allow plenty of time and space for listener-initiated conversations, as well as listener response to specific PMC questions about the drama.

An example listener group configuration is from PMC’s Ruwan Dare in Nigeria. There were eight listener groups per state, each divided by gender, and they got together and talked after each episode. A subset of these listeners also completed diaries.

Clinic Monitoring
PMC sets up partnerships with clinics in advance of the broadcast to ensure that any clinic service offered as a choice in the drama exists in real life. Throughout the drama’s broadcast, the target audience’s clinic use is monitored, usually one or more rounds of clinic monitoring. An in-country team will go to the clinic and ask a set of questions to new clients attending for specific services, including questions related to awareness of PMC dramas and what drew them to visit the clinic.

An example of clinic monitoring is from Burkina Faso. At a local clinic, there were exit interviews given to new clients to determine their motivating factors for starting clinic use that resulted in a total of 1200 surveys answered.

Text Messaging: SMS
PMC implements SMS monitoring strategies for some of the dramas. Epilogues at the end of the broadcast prompt the audience to think about the episode they just watched and may ask a question to which people can text their response. An example SMS question a listener may get could be, “Do you think (insert character name here) did the right thing?” Sometimes, the SMS prompts can be written to promote certain services, such as the nearest hospital, clinic, or health hut. SMS monitoring is a non-resource heavy monitoring tool that can be used frequently, following every episode, weekly, or every other week.

Random Phone Surveys
PMC also uses random telephone surveys to gauge response rapidly. Although the phone surveys are not statistically significant, the results are made available to the scriptwriters and producer within a matter of hours. Such quick turnaround of valuable information from listeners allows the creative team to make revisions to upcoming scripts. Respondents’ telephone numbers are noted, along with any comments or suggestions they might have about the program, so that the creative team can phone back to get more in-depth feedback if necessary.

In Burundi, PMC staff implemented random telephone surveys once per month, usually toward the end of the week, and results would be compiled and ready for writers when they arrived on Monday morning. In addition to these phone surveys, PMC also collects and collates responses to the dramas that come to its country office, including unsolicited phone calls, letters, or text messages, which varies greatly from country to country, program to program. These unsolicited audience responses are incredibly valuable for researchers, writers, and producers.

Supporting Media Elements
PMC also conducts what we refer to as the Whole Society Strategy for many of our programs, which often include elements like radio talkshows for audience members to discuss the drama or the issues being addressed in the drama. Listeners call in with different perspectives, which helps inform researchers, writers, and producers about how the drama is being received and what types of questions, information, or misinformation might exist within the audience.

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