As many readers will know, CommGAP has developed a couple of training courses. We now run these courses in partnership with the World Bank Institute. A few years ago, we began to commission technical briefs on various aspects of communication and governance for use in the training courses. They are quick, hopefully accessible introductions to various key topics in communication, especially political communication. Each brief was written by an expert in the field although we have not attached the names of the writers, these being our corporate products. We have decided to share these briefs more broadly. Please feel free use them as appropriate. We would appreciate comments on them as well.
"There are three complementary models of behavior change implicit in many public health communication campaigns. The individual effects model focuses on individuals as they improve their knowledge and attitudes and assumes that individual exposure to messages affects individual behavior. The social diffusion model focuses on the process of change among social groups. The institutional diffusion model focuses on the change in elite opinion, which is translated into institutional behavior, including policy changes, which in turn affect individual behavior. The models contrast the direct effects of seeing mass media materials... with the indirect effects of the social diffusion model, (wherein) discussion within a social network is stimulated by PSAs (public service announcements) or media coverage of an issue; that discussion may produce changed social norms about appropriate behavior, and affect the likelihood that each member of the social network will adopt the new behavior. In the institutional diffusion model, media coverage of an issue may operate through either one or both of two mechanisms. Media coverage may affect public norms that affect institutional behavior or policymaker actions, or media coverage may lead policymakers to think an issue an issue is important and requires action, regardless of whether public norms have actually changed."
- Prof. Robert C. Hornik (2002, pp.14-15)
Public Health Communication: Evidence for Behavior Change
Many (some say all) organisational, institutional or government communications efforts are about influence and/or behaviour change. A point often missed is that communications cannot be a bolt-on activity that happens in isolation from other actions. If you are generally “making friends” with your audience, it will be a lot easier to influence them – as J.S.Knox writes “You cannot antagonize and influence at the same time.” Time and time again I come across well-educated policy formers, peace builders, and frontline campaigners who are attempting to build a strategy for their work without including an element of strategic communications from the outset. There is a need to grasp that every activity you are engaged in will influence (there is no such thing as “not communicating” – everything sends a message). So, the way the phone is answered, your level of cultural awareness, the tone of an email, the policies you promote, and physical campaigns (e.g. military/peacekeeping/law enforcement activity) will all have an impact on your effectiveness to communicate other messages.
Transparency International’s 2009 Global Corruption Barometer, published last month, details the results of an opinion survey on the public’s perceptions and experiences of corruption and bribery around the world. The report contains many interesting findings, but the ones I found particularly notable were the following:
I returned from my two weeks of traveling with a more optimist outlook about Communication for Development -C4D- and the way it is being considered and applied around the world. I went first to Lisbon, Portugal, where I was invited to be a guest speaker in a week-long workshop on communication for social change sponsored by the Objectivo 2015 - UN Millennium Campaign in Portugal and hosted by the Lisbon's School of Communication and Media Studies. The course was directed at Civil Society Organizations managers and program officers. It has been very encouraging to see not only the high level of interest of participants, but also to realize that C4D principles and concepts can be and are applied effectively in the context of more developed countries.