If someone had asked me six months ago about the fastest way to reach young people in Jamaica, I would probably have said Instagram. If you asked me today, I would likely say U-Report (provided by UNICEF), albeit with the caveat that it depends on your needs.
As we pulled together our communication strategy and action plan for dengue at the Ministry of Health recently, we needed fast and reliable access to Jamaican youth in order to gain insight into their communication needs – from what they knew about dengue to what they needed to know and the best way to help them know it.
U-Report poll and follow-up bot
A poll conducted with the U-Report gave us that access. As a result, we were able to roll out a strategy and plan that made sense to an important audience we needed to reach, in the public health interest.
U-Report subsequently created a messaging bot that allowed us to relay information on dengue, also via that platform, to the 840 youth who had responded to the poll questions, and the thousands more who comprise the U-Reporters community. U-Reporters could then message the word DENGUE to receive information about A. Prevention, B. Symptoms or C. Treatment.
Helped close communication gap
That helped us to close the communication loop. In short, we asked youth what they needed to know about dengue, they told us and then we gave it to them.
I am grateful for the collaboration with U-Report and would encourage young people who are not yet a part of that community to join. As for those interested in hearing from youth, you may want to reach out to UNICEF.
How to join U-Report
U-Report polls are sent via messaging to Jamaicans aged 13-29, who opt-in anonymously to become U-Reporters to share their views on issues that matter to them. Currently there are more than 6,800 U-Reporters in Jamaica. Messaging is conducted free of charge for partners, but must first be approved by the Youth Council who ensure that they are relevant to their peer group. To sign up, message the word JOIN to U-Report.