You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘digital media’ tag.

Sorry I’ve been away for awhile, I’d gone away to help a friend ‘find herself’. As a ‘grown up’ woman, I do find it sad and hard to believe how many so called grown women are still battling with self-esteem issues. I suppose in a way we all have those feelings once in awhile where we doubt ourselves in one aspect or another. But this women, she seems to perpetually be in that state. On the surface, she’s a beautiful successful woman. She’s intelligent, and has a body to die for. But inside, it’s like she hasn’t caught up with that exterior. She’s like a young girl, stuck somewhere between being a little girl and being a woman.
This causes all sorts of problems for her in her personal life, she always seems to be caught up in destructive relationships – with men who cared nothing for her. If you meet her you’d think she’s a strong, independent, opinionated woman, but know anything about her relationships and you’d wonder if it was the same person. She tended to be with men who treated her like a plaything, often times these men had other women in their lives and only called on my friend when they wanted sex with minimal drama.
The problem was as a young girl, she was violated in the worst way possible, raped by two men who she knew – well two different occassions but within a few months of each act, amounting to three times in total. I think this pretty much screwed up any self love she might have had for herself, especially since she’d been an 18 year old already struggling with her looks. And I don’t think she ever recovered.
But the problem with her and other women with self-esteem problems is that because they don’t love themselves they put themselves in situations that can be harmful – like having unprotected sex with men they barely know. That was the thing that worried me about my friend – she’d know to get herself tested but even if the men she was sleeping with didn’t want to get tested, she’d still have unprotected sex with them.
Her story isn’t unique at all and this is what bothers me. We focus a lot of our prevention campaigns around using condoms, getting tested and saying no to sex. But the reality is we need to tackle the fundamental issues of self love. It’s already a hard battle for women in my generation (not that i’m that old!), but what about teenage girls growing up in a world where someone as talented as Beyonce is half naked in all her videos? Or even the videos where men seem to be talking appreciatively (until you actually listen to the words) of the curvaceous, skimpy clad girl dropping it like it’s hot?
They are being groomed to be a sexual object to be here to provide sexual gratification to a man, who if he really likes her will ‘spend it all on her and make her bed rock’.
I know we hear people talking about self-respect, but how do we instill respect in women when the media is full of images that promote anything but respect for women – whether it’s self-respect or from men (that’s another blog post for another day)?
If women, young and older, loved themselves, had higher self-esteem and self-respect, they wouldn’t be putting themselves in situations where they are disrespected or put at risk because of wanting to bend to a man’s sexual wants.
I’m happy to say that my friend finally acknowledged that she suffers from seriously low self-love after spending a weekend with a man who treated her badly – but had lots of sex with her – and she’s now seeking help. I have to admit, she’s one of the lucky ones, considering her sexual network – she’s very lucky.

I’ve been meaning to write about this for ages. Late last year – in December – Sandra Buffington from the Hollywood Health and Society Research came to London and visited with my team. Her work is so similar to what we do and I really admired the work that they do that I was so excited to have her share her work and results in the hope that the team could see how much potential there is in our field.

I love what they do, it is something I’d love to do more of, which is put social messages into popular mainstream programming like Law and Order, Greys Anatomy, ER, 90210. And it’s everything from HIV/AIDS to biopolar disorder. To top it off they have the stats to prove that this stuff works. People seem more likely to take in a message when it’s put into an entertaining format, or in a situation that they can relate to.

It’s what I aspire to do with Staying Alive and all other MTV SR programming and I think we’re on the right track, with Shuga, Tribes and Not to Me – if you don’t know, you better google it!

I also think it’s the way to go in Africa. To often Africa gets programming in the form of documentaries, newspieces and PSAs. Yes Africans are probably more into news type content than other young people in other continents, but its just information in a one dimensional way that sooner or later gets boring. Making the issue more three dimensional through holistic programming, especially through fictional characters and storylines to address ‘taboo’ subjects drives the message home.

This is way I’m especially proud of my brother, Fred Phiri, for using his talent to write and produce the drama series Club Risky Business in Zambia. To see the whole series go to the Club Risky Business Channel.

Enjoy

Final day of our strategy for the staying alive campaign and i’m shattered. It was good, but i’m beat. Not even sure if today was a productive as the other days. We re-did our mission statement and set goals/objectives for this year. We even managed to think up some ideas for our on-air programme this year. It wasn’t easy.
TV trends are changing. There is scripted reality, drama, documentary, all sorts of formats you can use, but which one really works the best? I know we should probably get more research on this issue, but discussing it among ourselves was a useful first step.
Next week i’ll pull together the full strategy and hopefully we can get our workplans together and start looking for funding. i think this is going to be a good year.

last night i went to a panel discussion on how you can measure the success of digital projects. of course this was of interest to me because with us living in such a ‘digital word’, it’s important that our sexual health campaigns have a strong component that uses digital properties, such as websites, twitter, facebook, youtube etc.
while this adds to our multi-platform offering, there’s also a struggle to figure out what is success – in a meaningful way other than just x thousands/millions of people visited the site over a period of time. and let’s be honest those figures can be subjective too. what they were saying last night, and i really felt was spot on, it’s got to be about engagement. how are users engaging with the campaign, with the brand?
this could be measured by anything from the amount of time they spend on the site – if they’re spending time on the site they’re engaged by something – to things like how they’re commenting, what they’re commenting on – basically it’s got to be about the user experience. Ultimately if we seek to identify the actual human interaction on the site – or whatever the digital offering is – then we can see a level of ‘customer satisfaction’.
it was based on commerical projects and tv programmes, but i thought this was interesting for HIV/AIDS projects that use digital media as well. after doing a google search i found there weren’t that many sites for the user on HIV/AIDS anyway – the user being young people that is. the other day i really struggled to find a site for young people that explained MCP in a way that was relevant to them.
this led me to thinking – how can we do educational campaigns without having this information readily available for young people in a language and a medium that’s accessible for them? yeah you have unaids and avert, but really, are these sites young people want to go to?
and that was another thing that they said on the panel – don’t focus on bringing the people to your branded site, instead take the content to where they already are. and make it easy to find.
i think at staying alive we are using digital in a good way, we have some really strong online properties, but we also have the challenge of figuring out how to capture that new audience – so that we’re not preaching to the choir – and engaging with them.
so far we’ve seen some success with our blogs, but definitely with facebook and twitter. i have to admit, i’m not on twitter – i just don’t get it (from an personal perspective) – but it works, it’s a great tool to keep people updated and even sending them to our various websites.
where i think we’re falling short is the information we give out. yes, our strength is not in the actual information, but i think we have a real opportunity where young people trust us as a credible and cool source that we should be giving them more of the hard information. to be fair we are doing this a bit better with our blogs for our ignite project. they’re written by young people themselves and they talk about various topics relating to sexual health, which i think this is a good thing. they talk about relationships, one night stands, getting circumcised etc, stuff that we want them to know about about, putting across information while entertaining the user.
we still have the challenge of getting those users to leave comments, so that we know that we’re doing something right or what we’re doing wrong.
so i do believe that now, more than ever, whether you’re addressing young people in Africa or young people in Europe, you need digital components to your projects. you just need to figure out how to make sure its the user experience in mind – and not about your brand – whether you’re an NGO or a UN agency or a company with a CSR agenda. and there’s nothing wrong with going to someone with more experience – like us!