Planning for Public Information
To be effective, public information programs must be consistent with and
supportive of broader programmatic objectives (e.g., to inform target
audiences about and motivate them to use existing HIV counseling and
testing services). Therefore, public information plans should be developed
as one component of the comprehensive HIV prevention plan.
During the planning process, a number of key questions should be asked.
The answers, which should be derived from targeted needs assessment data,
will help to assure that public information efforts will support the
HIV/AIDS prevention program objectives. These questions cover the
- What are the media preferences and habits of the target audience? What information sources (such as social networks, churches/religious institutions, coaches) do they consider credible?
- What are the media and other organizations that provide information in the targeted area? Which activities are related to public information? What are the specific audiences?
- What prevention program goals and objectives can public information support (e.g., increased knowledge, change in attitudes, motivation to act, increased skills, other behaviors)?
- What services/program activities should be promoted?
- What measurable objectives can be established? How can progress be tracked?
- What are the broad message concepts for the target audience? What should they be told? What do they want to know? Who will they believe and trust?
- What communication channels are most appropriate for reaching target audiences (e.g., radio, TV, print media, worksite, face-to-face, voluntary organizations, or the health care sector)?
- What materials formats will best suit these channels and messages? Are there any existing materials that can be used or adapted?
- How can the resources be used most effectively and for what combination of activities?
In addition to answering these key questions, an important part of the
planning process is determining the short- and long-term objectives of the
public information program. Objectives could include the following:
- Increase the number of persons (target audience) calling a hotline or requesting information/expressing an interest in other ways.
- Increase the number of program participants, volunteers, requests for activities within a community.
- Increase beliefs among community leaders that support for HIV/AIDS issues is important.
- Increase the numbers of partner, family, or other discussions about HIV/AIDS.
A comprehensive program could include all of these objectives. Most
communities may find that they can take on one or two objectives at a time,
then add to or alter their program focus as the program develops or
community needs change.
Staff Training in Planning for Public Information
Staff working in public information programs should review, discuss, and
receive training based upon the CDC health communication framework or a
similar planning model such as that found in Making Health Communication
Programs Work: A Planner's Guide. (See Resources and References p. 74).
Staff should also be familiar with methods for tracking and evaluating
public information activities.
Table B1: Standards For Effective Public Information Programs
Table B2: Guidelines For Effective Public Information Programs
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