Malaria Consortium identified that while their field teams were rich with technical expertise and people talented in the areas of public health and communicable diseases, the skills needed to capture and tell stories of change were in shorter supply. This was a challenge because one of the organisation’s strategic objectives is to share learning with policy-makers, health professionals, donors and the public. To do this effectively the communications team didn’t just need data, they needed examples of change – in other words, more impact stories.
The starting point was to speak to the field staff to find out what they wanted. This exercise made us sit up and take note of our own jargon – for example, there was little understanding of what we mean by ‘human interest story’. The consultation also revealed concerns around how to ask personal questions, handle difficult situations or secure permission. This insight meant we were able to develop a toolkit tailored to the needs of the field teams. It is packed with advice on things like planning story gathering activities, building rapport, undertaking interviews, capturing powerful pictures and also includes template forms for logging data and securing consent. The toolkit is now being used as part of a bigger staff development programme being rolled out by Malaria Consortium staff, including a training course based on the toolkit.
We have produced toolkits for a number of organisations including Marie Stopes International, Healthwatch England, Media Legal Defence Initiative and Oak Foundation.