Mass media campaigns are an increasingly important tool in a public health manager’s arsenal. Educating the public and influencing social practices is a critical part of combatting disease and death, be it by encouraging the washing of hands, safer sexual practices, or vaccinating children.This is especially critical for public health managers tackling non-communicable diseases and the preventable life-style factors driving their spread.
It is also important in low- and middle-income countries, where the growing reach of mass media now makes it possible to reach millions with crucial public health information.
Data-conscious leaders in public health have embraced the dictum, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” This is now even more critical as development aid budgets fluctuate and dollars are stretched. But the act of measurement is simpler said than done, especially when it comes to more diffuse social interventions with wide reach. Unlike a pill administered to a person, mass media campaigns are literally in the air. How do we know that they have reached their intended audience? How do we know that they have worked?