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Media guide: Developing a distribution plan

A dissemination plan makes sure everyone knows what is being proposed & what will happen.  It ensures that the media you have developed gets to your key audiences in an efficient and effective manner. It also maps out the resources (people and things) needed to ensure that this happens.

It makes sense to produce a dissemination plan along side the design brief for information materials.

Step 1: What resources or targets do you have work around?

You need to know what budget you have and any other constraints or targets you face.  Dealing with constraint or targets often leads us to more creative solutions.  Agriculture seasons will also present you with an unmovable timescale – this require good planning and effective decision making.

During various interactions with ISFM partners, including the write-shops, you will identify a number of stakeholders who are willing to participate in the dissemination campaign at different levels and in various capacities. Effectively mobilising partner support is a good way to maximise your budget and overcome obstacles.

Step 2: What is/ are the target group(s)?:  

Think carefully about who you are trying to reach and the targets you have for particular demographic groups. You may well have targets for reaching women or younger farmers.

Some media will reach some groups of farmers better than others ASHC has used comics to target younger farmers; radio to target women and families and point of sale information to reach heads of household. When planning approaches – such as farmer field days or extension sessions – think about how and where they are presented. If you want to support women’s attendance think about the timing of the event, access to childcare and in traditional areas the sex of the trainer.

Media link: The ASHC film women in extension explores some of the relationships between the media and approaches chosen and how effectively women can access them.

You may also decide that you need to provide information to gatekeepers or intermediaries. For example, if you wish to promote a new variety of seed or fertilizer then the agrodealers and extension staff will need information.

Make a list of the target audiences in as much detail as you can – or how you plan to get information to the targets. E.g. targeting farming families through school projects.  Remember if you say everyone – you will probably reach no one – segment the audience and how it will be reached.

Step 3: What are the communication channels and tools you plan to use and how?

Communication channels and tools that are feasible will be a compromise between what is desirable and what is practical given the available resources. You need to decide how will information be shared and communicated?  What sort of channels could be used?  For example, radio, film, an existing mobile phone-based agro-advisory service; a communication channel targeting children such as curriculum support material, or  other distribution of channel

Often there are many different initiatives working to get information to farmers and other stakeholders. It makes sense to find ways to use limited funding wisely and where possible work with partners. Think through what needs to be done (activities) and about the communication materials (posters, films, leaflets, radio, a set of SMS messages etc.) that are needed. You need to balance using the media that will reach the identified target groups with the resources you have

To get effective coverage you may need partners

Step 4: Which partners will you need to implement the campaign?

Some partners e.g. the Ministry of Agriculture, NGOs involved in extension, media houses, information service providers, may work closely with research institutions to  ensure dissemination of the ISFM information materials to the farmers  and other target groups,  while others such as some private sector players could potentially support the campaign activities  through provision of resources such as funds, transport, etc. Think about what is required from these stakeholders in order to have a coordinated and effective campaign?

The campaign strategy will outline the activities or set of activities required to meet the set campaign objectives.  These could be single or a combination of activities, one-off, a series, or repeated activities (e.g. radio programs, SMS campaign, field days and demos on the ISFM technologies etc.). There is need to think about how these activities will be implemented – how can they be embedded into the partners work plans? Should some be implemented as additional stand-alone activities?

Some times this will involve contracts or memorandum of understanding – other times you will be sharing objectives and may work together very informally.  It is important to clarify what you expect of any person or organization to contribute to the campaign.

Step 5: Plan to bring the media and the partners together

Different media will require different approaches, as you start to work though your approaches you need to ask questions about the timescales and timetables involved.  For example many telecoms partners want to validate the SMS messages through their own quality assurance processes.  Other partners might do bulk deliveries only at set times in the year.

Category  Dissemination  Useful Partners 
Print  Training poster Need to be got out to trainers – extension or farmers group leaders Extension service; farmers groups
Point of sale material Needs to alongside the product in the agro-dealers Agro-dealerships or wholesalers of farm inputs
Awareness poster  Needs to be placed in areas that farmers frequent – such as a market or health centres Needs someone on the ground who can get the posters into prominent places
Leaflets  Need to be given out at training events, information sharings or trade show Extension service; farmers groups; or agrodealers
Film Television  Television works to very specific formats and slots Need to work with a media production company closely aligned to a broadcaster
Training films Needs village screenings these can be set up using a generator and projects; or you can be more creative and look to see who has DVD equipment – Notore Chemicals paid local sports bar owners to screen training films at half time in the football matches. Others have produced them in formats that are easy to watch on a phone and can be Blutoothed between phone owners Extension service; sports bars; faith groups
Voice products  SMS/ voice messages  Best to develop the messages in packages and format that meet the specific needs of the telecoms company – provided this is consistent with what farmers need! Telecoms provider
Radio  Some programs have been developed and successfully syndicated (for example Shujaaz youth radio programs are aired by over 20 stations in Kenya and 3 in Tanzania) but it is more common to work directly with a radio station Radio production company closely aligned to a broadcaster

Step 6: Do your plans fit your budget?

Stakeholders who will participate in the dissemination or scale-up campaign and the required resources – see step 2.  Now is the time to double-check.

Step 7: What does success look like?

Think about how the scale-up campaign will be monitored and evaluated. Some campaigns include an option the opportunity for tracking results – for example sign up to a sms service or visits to a website.  In other cases you may need to be cleaver about how you gather your information – for example if you are promoting a new seed variety can you work with the input dealers to see how much they have sold?   Using real data is cheaper, easier and more reliable than survey data. Some changes can also be easily observed – like moving may be observable

Find a couple of simple indicators of success and clarify how data is going to be collected

Read any useful M&E reports from similar projects – but remembers they are rarely critical or peer reviewed – see what they learned and also what they measured.

Step 8: Work plan and timescale

Now is the time to bring this information together to make a detailed plan.  Setting up the dissemination approaches often takes as long or longer than designing and producing the materials.  You may find that there are gatekeepers who want to test and validate your materials or that you have to fit in with a set of distribution arrangements set by a third party.