HealthCompass How-to Guide
Publication Date
Publication Date: 
April 20, 2015

"Pretesting is the process of bringing together members of the priority audience to react to the components of a communication campaign before they are produced in final form. Pre-testing measures the reaction of the selected group of individuals and helps determine whether the priority audience will find the components - usually draft materials understandable, believable and appealing."

This Health Communication Capacity Collaborative (HC3) guide, one of five [see Related Summaries below] is designed to enhance a social and behaviour change communication (SBCC) campaign’s effectiveness, through pre-testing possible SBCC campaign components from the list below:

  • Key benefit and support points
  • Messages
  • Story boards
  • Draft materials
  • Name of campaign and logo
  • Signature tune/music
  • Translated text
  • Interpersonal communication activities such as those used by peer educators or field workers

Pretesting is one of four types of testing typically conducted at various stages of materials development, including: 1) concept testing, 2) stakeholder reviews, 3) pretesting, and 4) field testing. In order to follow the pre-requisite steps, campaign designers must formulate an audience analysis, a situation analysis, a creative brief, their message design, and their materials development. [See Related Summaries below.] "Pretesting should be completed after concept testing, message design, and materials development, and before components of the communication campaign are finalized, produced and disseminated."

Pretesting is done to gather information from the audience on the suitability of the message design. It is an attempt to gather information on comprehension, attractiveness, acceptance, believability, involvement, relevance, motivation/persuasion, and improvement. Before pretesting and as a basis for it, the creative brief developed for the campaign should be reviewed. (See Creative Brief Template for a format to create a brief prior to pretesting.)

Steps (in summary - elaborated with illustrations in the document) include:

  • "Step 1: Outline Pretest Objectives
  • Step 2: Choose the Pretest Method
  • Step 3: Plan the Pretest
  • Step 4: Develop Pretesting Guide
  • Step 5: Develop Questions
  • Step 6: Conduct Pretest
  • Step 7: Analyze Data and Interpret Results
  • Step 8: Summarize the Results
  • Step 9: Revise Materials and Retest"

The document includes resource links, samples, tips and recommendations, a glossary and concepts section, and sources and citations.