In 2020, billions of dollars were poured into mass communications campaigns to spread information about the COVID-19 disease. However, many communities around the world were either unable or unwilling to adopt preventative measures despite having been exposed to official messaging on the topic.
Seefar’s success in behaviour change communications is based on our unique focus on tailoring our messaging and approach to the individual. Thanks to this focus, our 2020 COVID-19 communications campaigns saw behaviour change rates of up to 97% in communities where myths about the virus dominated the narrative.
Our approach is also highly scalable and cost-effective. By engaging inherently motivated community members, our method ensures wide-spread awareness and attitudinal change at a low cost.
Our approach to public health communications
At Seefar, we integrate a strong focus on learning into all our campaigns. Our experience with COVID-19 campaigning over the last year has given rise to the following recommendations on designing and delivering effective behaviour change campaigns for public health and wellbeing objectives.
Identify trusted members of the target community and use them as messengers
In communities with high levels of mistrust toward governmental sources, top-down health communications are often ineffective. Our campaigns rely on community actors, recruited for their influential position, to disseminate messaging.
Recruit highly motivated volunteers to guarantee scalability and sustainability
Engaging individuals who are highly motivated to protect their communities is key to scaling up activities at a low cost. Volunteers are provided with training and resources, and encouraged to incorporate community outreach into their daily lives. These individuals are extremely likely to continue to spread messaging even after official support from the campaign ends, meaning that clusters of volunteers can be mobilised across different segments of the target population.
Convert beneficiaries into messengers to expand reach
In their outreach activities, our community actors also motivate beneficiaries to share campaign messaging with their personal networks. This approach maximises the reach of messaging, further increasing campaign sustainability and scalability.
Base campaign messaging and activities on in-depth research into existing knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and behaviours
Clear baseline data will ensure that campaign activities and messaging respond effectively to the unique needs and challenges of the target population. Once the campaign has begun, a rigorous monitoring framework should be utilised to continuously adapt and refine the campaign to ensure its ongoing success.
By engaging directly with proven knowledge gaps, myths and counter-productive attitudes, our community actors were able to change people’s minds about the very existence of the virus.
Consider ability, motivation and prompts for the adoption of healthier behaviours
Our outreach approach focuses on improving the ability and motivation of beneficiaries to adopt certain behaviours, then assisting them to build prompts into their daily lives, as per Fogg’s model of behaviour change.
The graphic below illustrates some examples of how we engaged with each component in our COVID-19 communications campaigns.