Creativity is a significant attribute of communicators since it allows them to consider multiple options, formats, and channels to reach target audiences. It also helps them devise solutions that preserve the sustainability and cost-effectiveness of specific health communication interventions. However, even the greatest ideas or the bestdesigned and best-executed communication tools may fail to achieve behavioral or social change goals if they do not respond to a strategic need identified by marketing and audience-specific research and endorsed by key stakeholders from target groups.
Too often communication programs and resources fail to make an impact because of this common mistake. For example, providing a brochure to a target audience on how to use insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) makes sense only if the audience is already aware of the cycle of malaria transmission, as well as the need for protection from mosquito bites.
If this is not the case and members of target communities still believe that malaria is contracted by bathing in the river or is a complication of some other fevers (Pinto,1998; Schiavo, 1998, 2000), the first strategic imperative is disease awareness, with a specific focus on the cycle of transmission and subsequent protective measures. All communication materials and activities need to address this basic information before talking about the use of ITNs and potential reasons to use them instead of other protection measures.
The communicator’s creativity should come into play by devising the most suitable and culturally friendly tools to engage intended groups in the process of changing their behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes toward the disease and its prevention. However, creativity should never be used to develop and implement great, sensational, or innovative ideas that do not respond to actual needs and strategic priorities.