Stop Stockouts: New media use leads to mainstream media coverage

When I talk to scientists and activists, I often encourage them to think about new media (the internet, social media such as Facebook and Twitter) as well as the traditional media (newspapers, radio, etc) as a means of getting their message out. Though people do get excited, they question the reach of such media, in countries where internet access is very slow, or not widespread.

A campaign I am presently working on illustrates how new and traditional media can be used in combination. In this case, an innovative project on the internet, was used to generate significant publicity for the campaign in the mainstream mass media.

The campaign is aimed at increasing access to medicines by calling for an end to ‘stock-outs’ — the problem of medicines regularly being out of stock at government health facilities. The campaign is running in Kenya, Uganda, Malawi and Zambia. It was launched early this year.

As a way of refocusing attention on the issue a few months into the campaign, and also in order to counter government denials that stockouts are a problem, the campaigners held a ‘pill check’ week. During this week (22-26 June), researchers visited visited public health institutions in around their countries and checked on the availability of a list of 10 essential medicines. These are medicines, that, according to the World Health Organisation, should be readily available in public health facilities.

Using innovative technology, the team then reported the results through short messaging services (SMS) to a common site, and the data has been reflected visually in an online mapping of the country that shows areas where medication is out of stock. The project made use of open-source software developed by Frontline SMS and Ushahidi.

The results can be viewed on the Stop Stockouts website. In Kenya, the campaign team held a press conference on Tuesday 30th June. This resulted in extensive news coverage in the mainstream as well as online media. Here are some examples:


Capital News

Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition

Build it Kenny, and they Will Come

So, while the majority of Kenyans might not have ready internet access, many journalists do — and the project was innovative to get their attention.


2 responses to “Stop Stockouts: New media use leads to mainstream media coverage

  1. Hello,

    I have enjoyed reading your posts, espeically this one on how documenting online can help one get in the mainstream media.

    This is one big opportunity that companies and organisations are failing to understand. The best way to attract maximum media attention is to develop your own practical ability to communicate continously on your website.

    The news sections on company and organisational website should be filled with the latest in the organisation’s activities. If these are well written and journalistically tailored, the mainstream media will certainly pick such articles and information.

    Our media houses in Africa are not financially able to follow up all stories and issues all the time and getting the news near them …at least tips for news through your own articles or blogs is a good effort. Also, like you mentioned, many organisations make boring presentations to journalists at press conferences and expect the journalists to do the interpretation and further research…when there is a simpler story to do.

    We have a product at our compnay encourging Organisations to learn to communicate and write in reportage form so that journalists can easily pick their activities as news. As a journalist, i know there is nothing goodf like landing on well prepared information in news article form…if well researched and quoted. As a media consultant, i have seen many of the press releases we write appear as is in newspapers and other media, or news we write for clients on their websites being regulary quoted in mainstream media.

    There is no day when the media will be able to cover all issues you would want…as organisation, you just have to learn to communicate. Apart from being able to reach some small audience on your website, you are able to provide information that news people can rely…factual well prepared info.

    Gerald Businge

  2. Pingback: Access to Medicines – End Stockouts « Governance Response to HIV/AIDS

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