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Interpersonal Channels

Interpersonal channels include community meetings, door to door visits, health worker/client interactions, interactions between shopkeepers or other sales agents and their customers, teacher/student interactions and any other direct communication through project staff or peers.

The advantages of interpersonal channels compared with other channels include:

· ease of approach for smaller projects
· potential to use locally appropriate terms
· allows selective targeting of specific groups
· high impact in communities
· effectiveness in rural areas where there is greater community cohesiveness and potential for sharing information by word of mouth
· message delivery is interactive with the potential for discussion and clarification of messages
· potential for incorporating novel approaches like motivational interviewing
· increased efficiency when well-traveled, well-connected persons in the society are the communicators

Disadvantages of interpersonal channels compared with other channels include:

· low coverage and low rate of message repetition per person
· relatively high costs per person reached
· if special staff added for a promotional campaign, coverage of a target population requires large numbers of staff for a short term campaign or long term staff inputs for a longer campaign; high salary, training and transport costs
· staff drop out
· less effective in urban areas and among other less cohesive communities.

Local Media

Local media can include drama, songs sung by traditional musicians, puppet shows, storytelling, or public announcements by religious leaders or other local leaders at community gatherings. Local media can be useful for raising awareness, generating interest and discussion, and may be effective in improving acceptance.

Advantages of local media include:

· communities can easily identify with the source of the information
· messages can be delivered using the most locally appropriate language and terminology
· messages delivered in an entertaining way may be better remembered

Potential disadvantages of local media channels are:

· relatively low audience exposure to messages or repetition of messages, because dramas or performances may only happen occasionally
· messages may be missed if people focus on the entertainment or if the messages are difficult to understand

Mass Media

Mass media include radio, television, video, films and cassettes. These channels can increase awareness and interest, and convey messages in a dramatic and meaningful way. Access to mass media is increasing rapidly in developing countries and radio ownership is high, particularly in urban centers.

Advantages of mass media include:

· wide coverage
· low cost per person reached
· messages can be focused on a target audience by attaching them to mass media programs that reach the target audience. Soap operas on radio and television are especially good channels for conveying messages because they are ongoing and provide the opportunity to convey more complicated messages and repeat them frequently.
· are effective to motivate individuals to purchase and use products by associating them with a desired lifestyle

Disadvantages of mass media include:

· Not everyone has access to mass media (less access in rural areas, poorer people).
· Preparing radio and television spots can be expensive, though donors or government sponsored stations may give free airtime.
· Message delivery is not interactive.
· Areas and people reached by broadcasts may not correspond with areas targeted for the project.

Printed Materials

Printed materials include posters, labels on vessels or disinfectant containers, sales brochures, leaflets, newspapers and newsletters. They encourage people to take action, convey information quickly and reach many people.

Advantages of printed materials include:

· Labels, brochures, leaflets are a useful channel for providing instructions. Even if people cannot read, they generally have access to someone who can explain instructions to them. Labels have the advantage of always being available when a product is used.
· Newsletters can be useful to update health workers or sales outlets about information such as changes in product availability, progress of the project, and answers to frequently-asked questions.

Disadvantages of printed materials include:

· Printed materials may not reach people who need them. Posters must be placed where many people will see them. Leaflets must be distributed carefully to reach many people. Printed materials must be re-supplied to clinics, sales outlets, and other distributors such as neighborhood health committees.
· Some cultures are not used to receiving information in written form. Some languages and dialects do not have a written form. Some people are not literate.
· Some terms may not be understood. Pictures may be misinterpreted. (These disadvantages can be overcome with pre-testing and by combining print materials with face to face interactions in which terms, pictures and messages can be explained.)
· Unless printed materials are well designed and tested, they may not convey the intended messages to the audience.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Infectious Diseases
Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases
Foodborne and Diarrheal Diseases Branch


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