Tel: +254 (0)20 2271000/ 20


Media Guide: Develop a multiple-media campaign

This media guide to developing a multiple-media campaign… is designed to offer support to anyone trying to get information to farmers – especially relating to a new or improved agricultural technology.

Please note that this page has a series of Media links – these will give you access to material that we believe could be useful as reference materials. Alongside each media link is brief description of what the media link is – for example, (word document) (web link) etc. Some links will go to third party conten

1 Introduction

Media and interpersonal approaches are important tools in delivering project objectives.  They form the basis of a development communications mix. At ASHC we say that good communications are essential but not sufficient – because communications alone will not usually result in changes in behaviour.

To affect behaviour change at scale amongst small-scale farming households you will simultaneously need to address all the obstacles that prevent farmers from applying the technology you advocate. Otherwise, what happens is that the bottleneck preventing uptake of a technology is moved along the supply chain. Obstacles can include:

  • failures in the input supply system to capitalise on nascent demand for the technology
  • failures by the finance or micro-finance sector to understand the potential of the technology
  • an unsympathetic policy environments – for example offering incentives for other technologies
  • challenges in the output markets (access to transport, markets or market information)

To get effective communications in place you will also need to be aware of any misinformation or cultural issue which impact on your message. For example, there is a widely held belief in Africa that chemical fertilizers poison the soil. Another example would be that in Ghana burning crop residues in the field is regularly practiced, causing soil degradation – however this practice appears to be tied up with the capturing bush meat, which is seen as important culturally within the community.

If you get your communications approaches right you are more likely to reach the target number of household. You should then make some impact on farmers attitudes, knowledge and provided other bottlenecks have been removed you may even change behaviour.

With careful thought and planning you can also construct experiments within your communications plan that help you to understand:

  • the effectiveness of a particular media and/or interpersonal approach
  • the effectiveness of different combinations of media in delivering communications objectives to particular groups in particular contexts

If you are working on a campaign that runs over a number of seasons efficient and effective analysis of your monitoring and/ or research data, can help you to fine tune the campaign between seasons to build on what is working well and improve anything that isn’t.

This media guide is designed to help you to develop a multiple-media campaign. To support this a series of guides to particular media and interpersonal approaches are being developed, drawing on the lessons from the ASHC program from CABI and its partners. We will also highlight other good practice where appropriate. Little is currently known about how the different combinations or media and interpersonal approaches work together. This is one of the questions that ASHC is trying to address with the current work program.

If you are working on a campaign that runs over a number of seasons efficient and effective analysis of your monitoring and/ or research data, can help you to fine tune the campaign between seasons to build on what is working well and improve anything that isn’t.

This media guide is designed to help you to develop a multiple-media campaign. To support this a series of guides to particular media and interpersonal approaches are being developed, drawing on the lessons from the ASHC program from CABI and its partners. We will also highlight other good practice where appropriate. Little is currently known about how the different combinations or media and interpersonal approaches work together. This is one of the questions that ASHC is trying to address with the current work program.

Media link 1.1: The ASHC approach creates campaigns by facilitating a partnership approach across a number of organization. The aim of the partnership is to inform small-scale farming households about a given technology using different combinations of media.

As you develop your campaign it is essential that you know at each point how you are going to distribute your materials and products. If you are relying on partners it is essential you understand their requirements for formats.

Media link 1.2 Media guide: Developing a dissemination plan to scale-up ISFM

Shujaaz reader  EXCHANGE VISITS AGRA   how to inoculate

Examples of different media  that could make up a campaign (clockwise from top left): A youth orientated comic shares information on bean farming; a farmer training day at a demo plot and a poster designed for an agro-dealers shop or for use by an extension agent. 

2 What is a multiple-media agriculture scale-up campaign? 

A multiple-media scale-up campaign utilizes a variety of media and interpersonal approaches to deliver a common message, or set of agronomic messages. The aspiration is to make the same information accessible to different members of the farming household. Collectively these media and approaches can be thought of as a development communications mix:

Media  Interpersonal approaches 
Low levels of interactivity

  • Film
  • Television
  • Printed leaflets, manuals, posters or point of sale materials
  • Newspapers magazines

In the middle group the level of interaction depends on the form the media takes 

  • Radio
  • Comics and youth media

High levels of interactivity

  • Mobile-mediated messages by voice or text
  • Social media/ICT
One to one

  • Clinics
  • Extension
  • Farmer to farmer communication

One to few

  • Radio listening groups
  • Demonstration plots
  • Training days
  • Extension
  • Farmer field schools
  • Farmer groups
  • Curriculum interventions – e.g. putting agriculture into the school science curriculum

These are mass communications with the potential to reach farming households at scale.

The unit cost of production and distribution is generally low. Some interactivity is possible.

Interpersonal approaches are usually moderated interactions with individual farmers or farmers groups.

The unit cost of delivery is high because these approaches are labour intensive

Media link 2.4: The ASHC approach to developing multiple-media campaigns (web page)

One specific advantage of the campaign approach means that there is flexibility to change the development communications mix to meet changing needs or emerging opportunities and to switch to media or approaches that are seen to be effective in delivering the project objectives.

Campaign approaches often involve a number of partners developing materials or training intermediaries to deliver interpersonal approaches. There is a need for co-ordination to ensure that the messages remain consistent.

The way that ASHC partners ensure that the information remains consistent across all media platforms and approaches is by developing and sharing document we call a technology brief. The technology brief is developed through participatory approaches with input from as wide a range of stakeholders as possible. Typically these will include researchers involved in the development of the technology in the area, extension, input dealers, output marker dealers, farmers’ representatives and NGOs and civil society groups active with local farmers. Where possible it is helpful to include gender expertise – especially looking at the roles and responsibilities traditionally associated with men women and people of different ages.

Media Link 2.5: Practice guide: Generating farmer-friendly consistent messages using a multi-disciplinary write-shop  (Word document). The process set out in this practice guide explains the write-shop process and exercises that result in a technical brief.

Media Link 2.6: Examples of technical briefs developed by ASHC partners (link to ASHC web page on technical briefs)

Getting the right partners for a campaign-based approach is really important. The approach works best when it involves different types of organisations working together. Each organisation takes a different but complementary role, each making an important contribution to outputs and outcomes of the projects. There is an important role of facilitating the partnership formation and development, and work towards a consensus on the common messages drawn from a technology brief that sets out a shared vision of the best approaches for small-scale farmers. This coordinating partner will also need to facilitate the development of a plan for media and interpersonal approaches to be included in the campaign. This requires a balance between the need to reach farming households at scale, whilst also creating experiments with different combinations of media and interpersonal approaches for research purposes. And of course all of this needs to be delivered on budget and in the agreed time-frame.

Working out in advance the roles that need to be covered will help you to recruit the best partners.

ASHC defines the five roles carried out by partners as:

  • Facilitating (F) with convening power (the ability to get people together) and skills to facilitate a plan and map the progress against the plan
  • Knowledge partners (K) with proven technologies, or practices, to share
  • Research partners (R) that work with the team to learn lessons and assess outcomes
  • Input partners (I) that are keen to establish sustainable supply chains for the required inputs –usually private sector
  • Delivery partners (D) using different media and/or interpersonal approaches to reach farmers

This is not a comprehensive list of roles. To some extent the roles will depend on the nature of the campaign and approaches.  There could be strong arguments for having output market partners (or combining the input and output partner into market partners).  Teaching and learning partners may be important – universities building the next generation of professionals, schools delivering learning materials based on the technology you are promoting. You may also want advocacy partner who can help present the arguments for a change in policies, regulations or the way that existing regulations are implemented or enforced.

The choice of media and approaches that are include in the campaign will have a big impact on who gets first-hand information on the technology.For example, radio and village film screenings have a good track record of reaching whole families; whereas the majority of people responding to interactive segments on the radio in our experience are  younger men; men tend to have access to mobile phones and household heads tend to be the ones that attend farmers meetings, extension session and carry out purchases at the agro-dealers. Younger people can be reached through comics, curriculum enrichment materials supplied to schools – to be successful the style and language of materials for a school and materials as part of youth culture would be very different.

Targeting different media and approaches at different members of the farming household can overcome the challenges of trying to produce a one size fits all solution. For example, it is hard to support people with low literacy wanting information of food security and provide comprehensive information (including full information on the techniques, benefit: cost breakdowns and follow-up information – such as where to get inputs and access markets) meeting the needs of farming looking to maximize their profits and feed their families. In some cases women may be looking for different information – such as turning crops into value-added products, or explanations about nutritional content.

If you have well planned campaigns and clear research objectives, you can test how different combinations of media and approaches work in different context.  It is unlikely that one method alone will do everything. For example demonstration plots are great at raising awareness of a new approach or variety – but then farming households struggle to remember the detail – so they need print or phone messages to reinforce the details.

At ASHC we try to provide information from land preparation to post harvest – even when our priority is promoting a new variety of seed. Farmers need to see how technologies fit together and we cannot be sure when others will come along to provide the missing information!

We believe that a multiple-media campaign is a good approach because in Africa the whole family gets involved in farming. With a campaign based approach we can support all the family members  in their attempts to implement the improved technologies. There is also some evidence that providing different family members with information can be very empowering and can have an impact on the way that decisions are made about farming practices within the household.

9(Link to ASHC blog)  This articles explains how a young woman found out about maize farming from a comic which she read to her father.  The reading become a conversation and the father realized that his daughter could help him to introduce smarter farming approaches.  This shows the potential of a campaigns-based approach to impact gender equality.

Media link 2.8: AFAP common bean farmer field days attract young farmers (Link to ASHC blog) This articles shows the gender breakdown of a series of farmer training days. Whilst many of the farmers were under 35, the number of women attending varied from 17% to 60%. All the events were the same, the villages were culturally very similar and the approach relied on extension workers to invite the farmers. There seems to have been some significant differences in the way that some extension agents work – with very different impacts in terms of women’s empowerment. Choosing the right media or approach is the first step but making sure it is delivered in an inclusive way is equally important.

Media link 2.3: Women in extension  here women explain what they need to be able to access extension services and flourish as farmers.

ASHC- Africare in Ghana -testing messages with women farmers

Consulting women farmers as part of the development communications materials development process

3  Multiple-media campaigns – getting the content right

It is now time to think about the content what you say, how you say it and how clearly you spell out the technology in ways the farmers will understand:

  1. Nuanced the language and content to met the needs of the different audience segments: It is essential that messages across campaigns are contain the same  information. It may be that you want to have very similar messages on all of the media – this depends on how diverse the needs are of your target audiences. Whilst the message need to be consistent each media will require different wording and presentation to appeal to the target demographic – so having different versions of the same text may be useful for your gender strategy. For example, in Kenya  Shujaaz, the youth comic, is written in Sheng a slang version of Swahili and English mixed together.  This clearly locates the material as part of youth culture – but the messages on agriculture are still on point.
  2. Actionable information: Farmers need a limited amount of background material and context- mainly what they are looking for is a clear set of actions to implement a technology effectively.
  3. Stress benefits that make sense to farmers: Farmers need to understand the benefits for them.  Most farmers are not interested in tackling food security (other than at a household level). What are the benefits of the improve technology? Benefits are solutions to real challenges facing farmers could include:
    • the technology saves labour
    • the variety crops heavily
    • the variety has strong market demand
    • the variety has other desirable features like the beans that don’t give you gas
    • a strong return on investment from the investment in the technology
  4. Co-creation of development communications materials: Across all forms of community development there is a growing move towards the co-creation of communication materials. To be effectively co-created farmer consultations should identify the challenges farmers face and use consultative and community development techniques to arrive at suitable solutions and development communications materials that can effectively address the challenges.
  5. Testing options and version with target community:  There are techniques that can support you to get to more targeted development communications materials. One approach would be to develop several different prototype materials and test them with the target audience using focus groups or interviews with farmers. The feedback can then be used to make choices between the prototypes or to combine the best aspects of different materials.
  6. Find out as much as you can about the audiences that you are trying to reach and test your assumptions

TIP 3.1: As you plan your campaign you need to know:

  • What are the levels of literacy and numeracy amongst your target audience?
  • What is the spoken and written languages that are important in the area?
  • What media do they access?
  • Are they existing routes to farmers – such as radio programs?
  • How farmers access inputs such as seed, fertilizers, seed treatments, pesticides etc.?
  • How active are public, private or NGO-led extension services?
  • What other sources of information are being circulated relating to the technology you are promoting

    You need to also think for each question is the answer different for men and women?  Does “what is considered typical” change in different age cohorts? For example – children and young people in farming households (14-20 year olds) younger farmers (aged up to 35) older farmers (over 35).

    Do other variables impact on what is typical? For example culture or religious customs.

    This information may impact on your choices of media and interpersonal approaches – or the way that you deliver them for example having a woman doing extension work with women farmers in traditional areas.

TIP 3.2: There are a number of different ways to find out more about farmers:

  • Focus groups are small formal meeting which aims to establish the views and feeling of those attending – the idea is that these should be indicative of the wider audience you are trying to reach.
  • Key informant interviews: You could interview farmers representatives, agro-dealers or extension worker who regularly engage with farmers. This will give you an idea about what is important to your target farmers
  • Participant observations: You could watch what farmers do when they engage with agro-dealers or extension staff, or visit their farms. It can be useful to visit ‘positive deviants’ – in this case we would be looking for the farmer that was known to do well with our target crop. If we can work out what she is doing – we may find useful farmer-led innovation to add into the information sources from researchers and product developers.

Media link 3.1: How to conduct a focus group


Tip 3.3: You would not expect a leaflet designed to appeal to young people to be written in the same way as a materials for extension workers. This is what we mean by nuanced language and content.Here are some examples of how different treatments of material can be! All of these materials are promoting maize:
Media link 3.2: A poster designed to help farmers think about maize:pigeonpea intercrop this poster was produced with NASFAM as part of an on-going campaign.
Media link 3.3: A comic promoting ISFM technologies to young people in Kenya this comic was produced as an exemplar to see how effectively complex farming information can be presented to young people. The material is in Sheng (slang Swahili/ English used by Kenyan youth);  the story is based around two strong female characters and the case study is also a woman.  There is benefit cost details in the coverage too! All in a 6-page A5 publication.

Farmers talking to farmers can be effective:  Some of the people farmers trust most to give them information are farmers like them!

Well Told Story are the publishers of the Shujaaz comics in Kenya and Tanzania.  In Kenya the comic is largely drawn – in the style of a graphic novel.  In Tanzania however the comics are blended reality. This means that for the agricultural stories photographs of real farmers (or agro-dealers) are combined cartoon characters to complete the story.  The farmers they select are young as their core readership is 14-25. The research that Well Told Story did when setting up its operation in Tanzania showed that seeing real people who have succeeded, was really important – they were branded by Shujaaz as Hustlas.

Media link 3.4: Shujaaz comic – Tanzania  (web link)

Farm Radio International worked with Radio 5 as part of the Scaling-up Improved Legume Technologies project.  The reporter on the program regular visited villages at key points in the agricultural calendar.

Media link 3.5: Radio 5 transcript including 2 village visits to explore what farmer knew about spacing in been (web link)

Media link 3.6: Women in extension  here women explain what they need from an extension service to flourish as farmers. 

Tip 3.4: Farmer to farmer advocacy can be very powerful. When you interview farmers on the radio not everything they say is true. This can be confusing for the listener. If you have farmers giving opinions that are wrong in fact – it is really important that these claims and statements are challenged immediately. Otherwise some farmers will take away the opposite message to the one you are trying to promote.

Tip 3.5: If you can have a slogan or clear brand for the campaign it can really help you to track the campaign and deal with issues of attribution. 

Media link 3.7: Chip and Dan Heath and the fataki shows how creating an original use of a word in  strong campaign gives you the ability to test how it sticks within a community

  • Consistency or branding to the campaign can help in the monitoring and evaluation stages – it makes it easier to track awareness across the different elements and shows how the materials are trying to reinforce each other.

4 How do you ensure consistency? 

It is important to get agreement on the technology and messages that will be presented to farmers.  All too often farmers are presented with information that lacks consistency.  To overcome this issue ASHC  has developed a participatory write-shop process.  The key objective of this write-shop process to produce a technical brief. A technical brief is summary of the improved agricultural technologies coupled with a description of the current level of technology.

The idea of creating a participatory process to draft the technical brief is that it helps the group to come to a consensus about the approach. The ASHC process creates a single summary document from land preparation & planning to post-harvest storage. This will usually include:

  • Good agronomy – including spacing, weeding, harvesting
  • Use of improved varieties of seed and planting material
  • Application of appropriate fertilizer
  • Application of organic matter
  • Use of seed treatments and inoculants
  • Integrated pest management
  • Storage technologies
  • Post harvest value addition

Even where we anticipate that the campaign or materials we are going to develop will cover only part of the cropping cycle we prefer to map out the whole technology to post-harvest. This helps to plan for future activity, it makes sure that the technology is coherent and it helps to identify bottlenecks in the technology that farmers may face later in the year.

Tip 4.1: Managing the technical brief: It is tempting to think that once the technical brief is created it will be set in stone. This has not been our experience. Over the course of the campaign lots of lessons are learned and some come back to the technical brief. Somethings that worked well in small-scale trials are not liked by farmer.  For example the best yields for common bean will be generated by planting 1 seed every 10cm; planting 2 seeds in a hole every 20 cm is marginally less productive but much more manageable for farmers.  So the brief was changed to remove drudgery and create a more popular approach to spacing.  We try to log the changes between draft of the technical brief so that partners can quickly see what changes have been made and what adjustments they need to make the advice, information and guidance they share. 


5 How do you validate the messages you plan to share?

All messages have to be based on sound proven scientific research. It is also essential to ensure that in simplifying the materials to make them farmer friendly no important detail is lost.  This is the process we refer to as validation.

Validation by scientist: There can be clash of cultures between the way that scientists prefer to talk about agriculture and the communications team looking for farmer friendly approach. Scientists are trained to write in a particular way about agriculture – they write for other scientist. This language is not generally accessible. So, it important that the validation process does not involve lots of complicating detail being added back into materials. Someone who has  been involved in the process to create the  farmer-friendly materials is more likely to understand the need to keep materials simple and action-focused.

Validation by the target audience: The best people to give you an indication about the validity and utility of communication material is your target audience. The best way to achieve this is to produce a variety of different versions of materials (or prototypes) and field test them directly with the target audience. 

The prototype testing will help you to identify the materials that best fit the needs of the audience and most clearly get your message over.  The most successful materials will then be piloted and feedback gathered. If the pilot also works you have materials that can be successfully mainstreamed. You hope that by the pilot stage your materials will be pretty close to the needs of farmers – but sometimes the feedback is that further work is needed. ASHC worked with Farm Input Promotions -Africa to pilot some materials. In technical terms the materials met the farmers need – however we had not included any clear economic data – so farmers found it hard to decide make the investment decision relating to the new technology.  After piloting, the materials are fully tested and validated and ready for a full-scale campaign.

Tip 5.1:  Prototypes –  Our experience of sharing prototype materials with farmers is that they have trouble commenting on materials that are a work in progress. When we showed incomplete materials and said something like the leaflet will have a photo here – we got much poorer feedback than when we had completed materials to share. What farmer told us how to finish the materials and we missed the bigger picture of how useful the materials were. or the clarity of the information and how actionable the messages were.

6 How do you choose the best media mix to reach farming families/household?

Within ASHC campaigns we talk about media and approaches. Media covers all print, broadcast and social media, whilst interpersonal approaches cover a range of activities such as extension, farmers field schools and training at demonstration plots.

Some media and approaches in Africa explicitly target specific demographics. For example, some radio programs have a content and style that is designed to appeal to a female audience. Some print media targets young people within schools in the case of Young African Express or Shujaaz and Femina Hip, both of which produce lifestyle magazines targeting young people with ideas on how to change their lives for the better. Working with established channels such as these can help you to achieve scale very quickly.


Media include:

Audio-visual media 


Information communications technologies 

Interpersonal approaches include: 

There is a wide variety of media and approaches available to promote your chosen technology. Some combinations of media and approaches will be prove more effective than others at reaching particular family members or types of farmers.

Some media is good at conveying simple messages e.g. posters. Whereas more complex information can be better shared by radio or farmer training days. Targets for different gender groups young or old, men or women; can impact heavily on the media and approaches that should be selected. But even within the media selected how, it is possible to create material which is nuanced to make it appeal to a particular gender group.

Media link 6.14 Targeting women and youth (web link)

In reality, of course,  your choices will be informed (and constrained) by:

  • the budget you have available,
  • the media partners and subcontractor you have been able to make contact with
  • and the aspirations you have for the project to get information before particular groups

If you are an organisation working in isolation you will be choosing from a limited number option. If you join with other organisations you may be able to consider a campaign approach (see section 3-5 above).

7 Developing a campaign plan and budget 

The ASHC approach is looking at getting is about developing consortia and alliance of people working on the same crops to develop multiple-media campaigns. By pooling resources materials can be developed that target different members of small-scale farming households. ASHC is interested in how decision-making process change when there is greater equality of access to information. This process requires partners to collaborate to ensure the messages are consistent (see 2 above) and the right media choices are made (see 4 above). These now need to be formed into a coherent campaign.

If you can plan long enough in advance you will find that campaign elements can support each other.  For example the radio can be broadcast from the demonstration plots; the farmer leaflets can include a flier promoting the radio. The cross fertilisation of media can help to the target audience to experience more than one strand of the campaign. This is very likely to help to reinforce the messages. This is why it is important to do the work to make sure all elements of the campaign are consistent.

Media link 7.1  Checklist for making farmer friendly printed materials

8 Planning for monitoring and evaluation

As you develop your campaign you may also want to design opportunities for monitoring and evaluating the impact of different media and approaches, individually or in different combinations.  This is easiest if you are working in geographically discrete area.

Media link 8.1 Managing for impact in rural development:A guide for project M &E