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When does it make sense to use audio-visual tools?

Last edited: January 03, 2012

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  • If the target audience frequently listens to radio and watches TV.
  • If the purpose is to raise awareness, enhance the listeners’ or viewers’ knowledge, provoke critical thought or discussions, or prompt a highly specific action (e.g. calling a certain number).
  • Radio can be an excellent channel to transmit messages to areas that are difficult to reach by other media, since battery- or solar-powered radios function independently from any electricity grid. However, rural households in developing countries tend to own a single radio or TV set only, which is more commonly used and controlled by male members of the household. As a result, messages targeted at women are less likely to reach their audience, unless additional radios are provided that can be used without batteries (e.g. solar-powered or wind-up). (UNIFEM, 2007: Women Building Peace and Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict-affected Contexts). The timing of broadcasts is also important for the same reason – women may be better able to listen to radio messages when men are not at home, so broadcasts in the afternoon could be more effective than in the evening or early morning.
  • If the necessary resources are available or can be mobilized, e.g. funding for or pro-bono air time on TV and radio, and specialized audio-visual media production expertise.
  • Less onerous alternatives are community radio, which can work well with simple formats and reach audiences that do not have access to TV, and digital video on the internet (see e-campaigning for more information).

Audio-visual campaigning is not sufficient or appropriate if…

  • It reaches only an unimportant (for campaign purposes) fraction of the target audiences. In that case, resources may be better used on different communication channels.
  • Specialized media for marginalized groups – e.g. people with disabilities or people who do not speak the language used in national media – does not exist. Community-level activities (including community radio), and events in local languages or with tailored audio-visual aids (e.g. materials in Braille or sign-language translation) may be more effective to engage them.