Published since 1999, this is a monthly journal of best practices and resources for public interest communicators designed to help them reach more people more effectively.
For instance, one item in the September 2013 edition reports on a University of Southern California (USC), United States, study showing that health messages can have more impact when they come wrapped in a story. "The problem: cervical cancer, which is highly preventable but still claims over 250,000 lives annually around the world. The target: Mexican-American women who are at-risk for cervical cancer, in large part due to a reluctance to get Pap tests which can save their lives. The question: in motivating these women to get screened, will a story do a better job than a more traditional presentation of the facts?" To compare this audience's response to a story versus a more traditional, non-narrative presentation, the USC team created two 11-minute films featuring Mexican-Americans that contained the same 10 facts regarding cervical cancer's cause, prevention, and treatment. To test response to the films, 254 women who self-identified as Mexican-American were randomly selected and then surveyed for their level of knowledge, attitude, and behaviour relating to cervical cancer and prevention. Half of this group then viewed the narrative film [which may be seen below], while the other half watched the non-narrative film. (The two films were tested in the same manner on 236 African-American women and 268 European-American women.) All participants were surveyed several weeks later and then again at 6 months. For all 3 groups, as reported here, the narrative was more effective than the non-narrative in producing the desired behaviour: getting or scheduling a Pap test. Among the Mexican-American participants, 74% had Pap tests or made an appointment to get one after watching the narrative film, versus 60% for those who had watched the non-narrative film.
This is just a single example of a Free-Range Thinking feature for communicators.
Email from Brett Davidson to The Communication Initiative on October 22 2013.