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Reality check: Reviewing the campaign plan

Last edited: January 03, 2012

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At various moments of strategy development and planning, it is useful to pause and review the different ideas and plans generated in the process. This is an aspect of the overall planning process, which is a systematic collection of data and information to stay informed of campaign activities, their outcomes, and the degree to which campaign goals and objectives are being met. Scanning the broader environment helps to recognize new opportunities, or threats that may jeopardize campaign activities and outcomes. It is important to bear in mind also that applying monitoring tools to the campaign planning process already at this stage can be immensely helpful to benchmark and verify, at regular intervals, whether the campaign is progressing as planned and whether context changes could call for adjustments, e.g. different tactics. For guidance on monitoring, please refer to Monitoring and Evaluation in this module.

Throughout the phase of developing the campaign strategy, people who have not been involved in planning the campaign, preferably persons who are familiar with the target audiences, can be invited to test the campaign strategy and its elements. Good questions to ask include: Have any factors that may determine the success of the strategy been overlooked, or overstated? Have any assumptions been made which are not based on reliable evidence? Can the necessary resources be mobilized?

The “ask why” test, illustrated below in an example from a public health campaign, is an easy way to guide such thinking.


Why Ask “Why?”

A good strategy demonstrates not only what is being done, to whom, and how it will be done, but also why. All statements at every stage of a strategy should provide a clear rationale. Therefore, the most important question that a strategist can ask when developing or reviewing a communication strategy is, “Why?”

-        Why is this the most important problem?

-        Why are urban men aged 18–24 the primary audience?

-        Why are you expecting to convince 25 per cent of adolescents to visit health care clinics?

-        Why are you designing a logo when all the partner organizations have their own logo?

-        Why is it important to emphasize the friendliness of providers?

-        Why use television when 70 percent of the households do not own television sets?

-        Why produce newspaper ads when the intended audience does not read newspapers?

-        Why do you need a poster?

-        Why use community participatory activities when you are implementing a national program?

-        Why evaluate all women when the intended audience is rural women ages 20–49?

You should ask “why?” at every step of communication strategy development and at every level of design. Asking “why?” ensures that everyone and everything stays on strategy.


Source: O’Sullivan et al., 2003. A Field Guide to Designing a Health Communication Strategy.


Seeking feedback from others should happen at all stages of the campaign, including planning and preparation. Campaign messages and ideas for action should be discussed with people who know nothing about the campaign, but who are part of or familiar with the target audience. Once the campaign is launched, informing others and gathering feedback remains essential to verify whether the strategy works. Feedback from outsiders should be incorporated in campaign monitoring and evaluation. It may be a good idea to establish a permanent sounding board of outsiders to the campaign who can be consulted regularly to test new ideas.