Choose a Color

Strategic Communication for Behaviour Change Globally: The Power of the Media 


26 March  to 4 May 2007
http://my.ibpinitiative.org/youthandmedia

The purpose of this six-week forum is to share effective strategies in the area of popular culture and youth-led media for sexual and reproductive health promotion, drawing on Y-PEER’s expanded, innovative partnerships. The six weeks of discussion shall cover channeling the power of the media to effectively implement strategic behaviour change communication, touching on young people in the spotlight through youth-led and interactive media, theatre and concerts, individual face-to-face testimonials and screen-to-screen dialogue, and radio-based interventions..

Discussion Statistics


Number of participants:  515
Number of participants' countries: 91   
Number of contributions: 136
% of contributions from developing countries: 74%
Number of countries contributing: 78

Purpose and Objectives 
Purpose
The purpose of this six-week forum is to share effective strategies in the area of popular culture and youth-led media for sexual and reproductive health promotion, drawing on Y-PEER’s expanded, innovative partnerships. The six weeks of discussion shall cover channeling the power of the media to effectively implement strategic behaviour change communication, touching on young people in the spotlight through youth-led and interactive media, theatre and concerts, individual face-to-face testimonials and screen-to-screen dialogue, and radio-based interventions.

The initial two weeks shall open a dialogue which will continue through UNFPA’s Workshop on Media, Pop Culture and HIV in Istanbul, Turkey (April 9-14, 2007).

The forum schedule follows:
  • Our first facilitator is Tim Thomas, the Executive Director of MTV’s Staying Alive Campaign. Tim will facilitate week 1 (26 March–01 April) in which we will discuss basics of media use for behaviour change communication, as specific to adolescents and youth.
  • During week 2 (2-8 April), Vicki Beck, Director of Hollywood, Health and Society project will provide us with a Hollywood insider’s view and share a model of working with producers, directors, writers and actors on incorporating health-positive messages into TV shows and films. 
  • Bill Ryerson, Founder and President of the Population Media Center (PMC), along with his PMC colleagues, Kriss Barker, Vice President for International Programs and Katie Elmore, Development and Communications Manager, will lead week 3 (9-15 April), in which we will discuss the power of radio in health promotion and behaviour change.
  • Week 4 (16-22 April) will be facilitated jointly by Dr. Cydelle Berlin, Executive Director of the NiteStar Program and Colin Dixon, Head of Global Partnerships and Development at Dance4Life. Cydelle and Colin will lead us through practical aspects of using live performances such as acting, singing and dancing as tools of behaviour change communication.
  • The innovative topic of interactive media, such as video games, will be covered by Amil Husain the Youth Coordinator with the United Nations Millennium Campaign and Todd Murray, the Executive Director / Founder of Hope’s Voice and Executive Producer of the documentary Road to Hope (23-29 April).
  • Dr. Srdjan Stakic will facilitate week 6 (30 April–4 May), during which we will review all that was covered to that point, highlight additional areas that need further attention, and discuss how to take lessons learned and translate them into practice. 

                                                       

Week 1

Topic and expert: 

Tim Thomas, the Executive Director of MTV’s Staying Alive Campaign. Tim will facilitate the week in which we will discuss basics of media use for behaviour change communication, as specific to adolescents and youth.


Week 1 Overall Summary:

We have arrived at the end of the Week 1 discussion. I am thrilled with how we are progressing and once more I wish to thank Tim for his leadership and technical input, as well as all of you – almost 400 people in over 80 countries who came together to discuss this very important topic. Further, let me thank once more UNFPA and Johns Hopkins colleagues for their continuous ‘behind the scenes’ support which is crucial!

In this summary, I will attempt to capture the most salient points of this week’s rich discussion. Not an easy task, so wish me luck and feel free to add anything. Click on the full text daily digest below to read full summaries.
 


Week 2

Topic and expert:

During week 2, Vicki Beck, Director of Hollywood, Health and Society project will provide us with a Hollywood insider’s view and share a model of working with producers, directors, writers and actors on incorporating health-positive messages into TV shows and films.  

Due to the magic and hard work of our facilitator, Vicki Beck, the Director of Hollywood, Health and Society, we will have 5 daily guest facilitators who are producers, writers and editors of some amazingly popular TV shows in the US and beyond, including ER, Grey’s Anatomy, Law & Order: SVU, House and The Bold and The Beautiful (check out their bios below)!  They have agreed to help Vicki out in facilitating the upcoming week by answering your questions and giving input from their own hands-on perspectives!


Week 2 Summary:

So we come to the conclusion of Week 2 of our discussion – and what a rich discussion it was. A huge thanks to Vicki and her team at Hollywood, Health and Society!  Of course, I must personally thank Joe Sachs, Zoanne Clack, Neal Baer, David Foster and Betsy Snyder not only for joining us in discussion nor doing such a great job at educating the public, but also for keeping me glued to a TV when I should be moderating this Forum. Your work is much appreciated!

We heard from producers and writers – and they all seem to agree: Never start with medicine – the show is about a personal story, not about a medical problem: people learn, as a side effect of our dramatic story-telling.

We learned that ideas about medical stories come from various sources and that offering Web links or toll-free numbers for additional information is an excellent way to get any interested viewers to take the next step and access even more information – the first step towards changing (or maintaining) a health-related behavior.  

Finally, we heard some findings from viewer studies that demonstrate TV viewers talk about the health issues with others, they learn from the storylines and perhaps even adopt healthier behaviors. 
 


Week 3

Topic and expert:

Once more, I wish to thank Tim and Vicki for a fantastic two weeks of discussion. The upcoming week will be nothing short of amazing as well.  I am honoured to introduce to you Bill Ryerson and his team members from the Population Media Center (PMC), Kriss Barker and Katie Elmore. Bill, Kriss and Katie will facilitate a week entitled: “Riding the Airwaves: Radio-based Interventions.”

  

Week 3 Summary:

I wish to thank Bill and his colleagues at the Population Media Center (PMC) for another week rich with academic and experiential content, this time concentrating on radio as a tool of entertainment education.

We started the discussion about what entertainment-education is and have agreed that its definition is a combined educational and leisure effort in order to transfer information. As a strong benefit, entertainment-education carries information alongside emotional engagement through dramatic plots.

We learned about the “Whole Society Strategy” utilized by the PMC, which follows ICPD Programme of Action’s recommendation that the best way of impacting behaviour change is through employing all possible methods and services, including electronic and traditional media. 

We discussed radio programming and we discussed that it may be more efficient to work with producers of existing programs in order to help them incorporate social and health issues while still retaining the entertainment value of the program.

 


Week 4

Topic and expert:

Welcome to Week 4 of our online discussion entitled “Acting the Part: Young People in the Spotlight.” This week will be co-facilitated by Dr. Cydelle Berlin of NiteStar theatre, Ken Hornbeck of Emory University’s Issues Troupe and Colin Dixon of Dance4Life.

Cydelle and Ken will provide us with descriptions of various peer-based theatre programs as examples of interactive, theatre-based prevention models in the US and beyond and they will facilitate discussion on live theatre as an approach to prevention, social change and health education. Colin will take the discussion further by helping us explore how dance and music can encourage active involvement in HIV and SRH to enable knowledge, skills and awareness building, and what role large-scale events and concerts (with involvement of young people, celebrities, etc.) may play in this process. 


Week 4 Summary:

Allow me to present you with a brief summary of Week 4: “Acting the Part: Young People in the Spotlight.” Firstly, we heard from Cydelle, Ken and Colin who are all doing amazing work. We’ve learned more about the NiteStar Theatre, about the Issues Troupe and about Dance4Life. We defined peer-based theatre education and learned more about using dance and music as a means of engaging young people in HIV prevention.  Finally, we heard about the role of large concerts/events on awareness-raising globally.
 


Week 5

Topic and expert:

We have another exceptional week coming up! The topic of this week is “Face-to-Face/Screen-to-Screen: Interactive Media” and we will concentrate on new mediums, such as computer games, mobile phones and such. 

There have been some changes to facilitators – unfortunately, Todd Murray of Hope’s Voice will not be joining us this week, but we are thrilled to have Amil Husain of the UN Millennium Campaign with us.  The Campaign “informs, inspires and encourages people’s involvement and action for the realization of the Millennium Development Goals (http://www.millenniumcampaign.org/site/pp.asp?c=grKVL2NLE&b=185529). An initiative of the United Nations, the Campaign supports citizens’ efforts to hold their government to account for the Millennium promise.” 


Week 5 Summary:

Allow me firstly to extend my gratitude to Amil. His insightful and carefully thought-out contribution from this week has opened my eyes about the exploding field of new technologies in health promotion (and other sectors of development work).

Amil discussed recent advancements in technology that have allowed game developers to reach a wider audience than ever before. These include computing (increasingly low cost) and mobile phone (known for their low cost, accessibility and functionality).

Due to the increasing availability of computers, video games have been increasingly used in health promotion and health care settings. However, gaming should be thought of like any other educational tool; it can be used effectively to increase education, or poorly which will not.

Although the Internet accessibility is spreading around the world, the entire Internet penetration in developing countries is still hovering around 10% due to cost of computers and the Internet connections.  Still, the Internet can be used in many ways to communicate information and link people. For example, online social networking involves connecting and sharing information with other like-minded people via the Web.
 


Week 6

Topic and expert:

In the final week of our Forum, I wish to review the wealth of material covered thus far with one question in mind – how can we implement these lessons learnt in our own work?


Week 6 Day 2 Summary:

Following up on our conversation from yesterday regarding harmonization of new and on-going media-based initiatives with other prevention, outreach and clinical service programs, allow me to present a possible next step, or recommendation for action.

Any agency, but specifically one of the supporters of this discussion Forum, UNFPA’s Y-PEER initiative, may consider expanding their coordination efforts by linking entertainment media with prevention, treatment and care efforts. Y-PEER has already initiated such efforts (for example through its partnership with MTV Networks International and local NGOs).  Still, Y-PEER’s (or any other networks’ or organizations’) work may be enhanced by working more closely with entertainment media insiders in order to produce facilitators’ guides associated with topics covered in TV shows or films, organize discussion sessions or provide free treatment and care resources following broadcasts, and so on.

How we can bridge the gap between various agencies’ fortes (or perhaps their limitations?) in order to assure that we provide a quick, easy, comprehensive and factual source of information to media professionals?
 

Week 6 Day 3 Summary:

To follow up on our discussion from yesterday, the answer may be establishing strategic partnerships and actually working jointly in order to overcome one agency’s limitations and at the same time utilize their strategic niche.  For example, UNFPA may establish a functioning partnership UNICEF, UNODC, UNDP and approach a TV producer (or other entertainment media professionals) as one body. Although this sounds quite easy now, it is much more difficult in the real world, but by no means is it impossible. One “motivating” factor for this to happen may lay in the power of funding agencies that can request on-going collaboration and explicit and functioning orientation towards comprehensive community development and personal wellbeing in our work vs. artificial differentiation of areas of involvement.

How can we best motivate media executives (producers, writers, editors, etc.) both in the US (Hollywood) and in other countries to include the community, policy makers, young people and others in the decision-making process about what is positive and what is negative – what value systems should be embraced and promoted by a radio or television show?  In answering the question, think about the recommendations from the Sabido model shared by Bill and his team.

Week 6 Day 4 Summary:

Allow me to follow up on our question from yesterday. One way of accomplishing this is to show the cost-benefit of integrating community in the decision-making process.  I do not want to stereotype the media industry; however, a large part of it is driven by revenue.  Of course, there is a lot to be said about the artistic value of a product, yet popularity, and in turn financial gain, often determines whether or not even the most creative show will stay on air or not.  That said, the public health profession needs to collect much better data on cost-effectiveness of programmes produced utilizing the methodologies described by Bill and his colleagues.

Another way that may not produce immediate results, but may be effective in the long run (and that to my knowledge has been highly underutilized) is partnering with professional schools that train actors, producers, directors, journalists and various other media professionals.  Through working with media folk in-training by offering courses on public health and social responsibility of the media in general, we are bound to establish a large number of media executives whose efforts will blossom once they are at a stage in their professions when they can make such decisions. 

  1. What type of technical assistance do we need from agencies such as UNFPA and its Y-PEER network or Dance4Life or the NiteStar Theatre, in order to increase availability of education-orientated performances around the world?
  2. Do you think that linking TV or radio shows, with live theatre performances (for example, re-acting one-half hour telenovela that was broadcast on TV) and facilitating discussion afterwards, could be a beneficial way of linking various media and carry one message further?

 

Week 6 Day 5 Summary:

As we bring this review week to close, let’s think about yesterday’s question. UNFPA has started coordinating campaign-developing workshops, such as the regional workshop held in Istanbul on Youth Pop Culture, Media and HIV/AIDS: http://www.youthpeer.net/site/posts.php?page_id=3&section_id=3&post_id=144.  Through such initiatives, agencies can support local NGOs and government agencies paring up with media professionals and celebrities.  However, as we mentioned previously, UN agencies must link together in order to expand their own agencies’ missions and therefore address the wellbeing of their audiences in more comprehensive ways. This is a challenge that must be addressed head on by all of us.

In terms of the more specific question from yesterday, regarding reacting TV or radio shows as live performances, it seems that this may be a good idea, granted that there is support from producers of original pieces (in terms of proper authorizations) and that the “translation” from one medium into another is done professionally so that the entertainment value is not lost.

Moving on to Week 5, I wish to remind us of the incredible information we gained from Amil of the UN Millennium Campaign regarding interactive media. We learned about computing, video games, the Internet, social networking, mobile phones and SMSing. One think that I learned is that the new, interactive media present an incredible opportunity for us as health educators or activists in general, and that we should not be afraid of learning about them and trying to use them in our work. In fact, learning about new media before they have penetrated our target audiences fully may be the best strategy in trying to “tame” these untested waters.

Click the full text daily digest below to read next steps and recommendations for future action.


Post-forum survey results

Number of surveys completed 78

% who have passed content to others 62%

% who have or will use in their work  94%

% very satisfied with forum content 83%

Suggestions for improvement :  

  • Involve, not only American experts but also experts from other countries―could be very enriching.
  • Shorter forums. Shorter comments from facilitators.
  • The summaries were helpful because of time constraints. There were a few times when I wanted to add to the discussion, but the discussion had moved on―possible improvements would be to allow a longer time period per discussion to adjust for time zones and workloads.
  • The improvement should be made regarding the feedback from the facilitator to allow enough contribution. Some of us failed to contribute consistently because sometimes the feedback and next questions of discussion were coming to us late, just to find them in the morning while already time barred.
  • This is the best on-line discussion I have participated in so far, both in terms of content and moderation. Can't even think of making anything better than that.

  

References and resources

Click here for related resources and references in the community library

Organizing groups

Adolescent and Youth Team of the Division for Arab States, Europe and Central Asia of UNFPA and the INFO Project based at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for Communication Programs (JHU/CCP)

Contributing experts/facilitators 

Tim Thomas, the Executive Director of MTV’s Staying Alive Campaign

Vicki Beck, Director of Hollywood, Health and Society project

Bill Ryerson, Founder and President of the Population Media Center (PMC), along with his PMC colleagues, Kriss Barker, Vice President for International Programs and Katie Elmore, Development and Communications Manager

Dr. Cydelle Berlin, Executive Director of the NiteStar Program

Colin Dixon, Head of Global Partnerships and Development at Dance4Life

Amil Husain the Youth Coordinator with the United Nations Millennium Campaign

Todd Murray, the Executive Director / Founder of Hope’s Voice and Executive Producer of the documentary Road to Hope

Dr. Srdjan Stakic, Coordinator of Epidemiology and Public Health at the Yale Center for Public Health Preparedness

Other acknowledgements

Sponsors and organizers of the Forum: Adolescent and Youth Team of the Division for Arab States, Europe and Central Asia of UNFPA, headed by Dr. Aleksandar Sasha Bodiroza. Ms. Ann Pettigrew of UNFPA has put hours preparing this Forum and my gratitude goes to her. In addition, I thank everyone with the Information and Knowledge for Optimal Health Project at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. It is clear that their skill at organizing these types of fora is unique globally.

Moderators 

Dr. Srdjan Stakic, Coordinator of Epidemiology and Public Health at the Yale Center for Public Health Preparedness