Channel Analysis - Media Selection

A mix of media and communication channels (mass, IPC, group/community) as well as formats (social mobilization, TV, radio, IEC, etc.) is essential to ensure sustainable communications. Using a single channel or format will severely limit the reach of your message. Mass media can be excellent for awareness but is very poor for detailed information sharing and two-way communication. Mass media can elicit emotional response and add legitimacy to a campaign, but interpersonal communication can directly address highly localized issues in real-time.

Social media is also an increasingly relevant way to communicate information and connect with a community. In conjunction with mass media, a dynamic communication approach including both the one-way communication of mass media and the ability of social media to spark dialogue can make a key message even more accessible and applicable.

The chart below from Communication Handbook for Polio Eradication and Routine EPI (2000) still provides a handy overview for reference for how to select the best media channel for your needs.

Media/Channel Strengths Weaknesses

Mass media

Such as radio, TV and newspapers

Creating a general awareness

Increasing information

Giving basic facts

Giving information a sense of impor- tance and legitimacy

Reaching many people at the same time

Popularizing messages and making them less stigmatized

Reinforcing messages

Creating a bandwagon effect that can encourage and pressure people to join in

Interaction with the audience

Providing detailed explanations

Responding to questions of a personal nature

Personalized persuasion

Supporting targets through behaviour change steps

Responding to audience feedback


Such as group discussions, seminars, workshops, etc

Group media/channels are interactive and bring people together to share ideas. They are strong in:

Explaining details and responding to questions and doubts

Legitimizing messages Building consensus

Providing support for change of attitude and behaviour

Providing support for sustenance of new behaviour

Addressing rumours and misinformation

Group media/channels are weak in: Ensuring uniformity of message content

Responding to questions of a personal nature

Reaching large sections of the population at the same time

Flexibility (sometimes it is difficult to gather many people together)

Some people may not be courageous enough to speak out or ask questions

Group settings may lead to bias, unfair pressure

Group environment may not favour certain views or categories (such as minority groups)

Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, etc.

Can reach a large number of people

Can reach a younger audience

Creates a platform for conversation

Adds validity to the messages by having them connected with a familiar person

Allows for "many to many" pattern of communication

Realtime dissemination of ideas

Difficult to monitor and control

Less effective with populations that have limited technological access

Can exacerbate existing divides or inequalities (rural/urban, young/old, male/female, rich/poor, literate/illiterate)

Must compete with other sources of information for viewers


Media/Channel Strengths Weaknesses


Such as individual counselling

These channels are strong in:

Responding to questions and needs of a personal nature

Identifying and filling information gaps

Flexibility Persuasion

Supporting the behaviour change process

Bringing about attitude and behaviour change

Legitimizing, reinforcing and sustaining new knowledge, attitudes and behaviour

Interpersonal contacts are weak because they:

Require time and staff, so they can be labour intensive

Can only reach a few people at a time

Can distort messages or omit them as messages are repeated to one person or a couple of people at
a time

Can introduce the communicator's bias into communication

May communicate inaccurate messages if the communicator is not well versed in the content


More on media channels and selection can be found in the Integrated Action section of the Toolkit.

Learn More

Explore the other two learning modules in this 3-step tutorial to design evidence-driven communication strategies to help vaccinate every child. 

Integrate communications tactics and understand their strengths and weaknesses, then evaluate performance.

You cannot do everything and your ability to prioritize your interventions and target behaviours is paramount. One simple way to do this is to evaluate importance of the behavior and its changeability.