Purportedly coined by Walt Disney in 1948, the term edutainment (or educational entertainment) refers to a wonderful branch of communication that combines entertainment with education. Pioneered in the early 1970s in Latin America as a tool for promoting family planning, health, agricultural development and human rights, edutainment is now a tested and time-honored global strategy used by UN agencies, governments and non-profits to empower audiences with information they need and connect them with resources for individual and collective change.
One of those organizations is a Rain Barrel institutional Associate, PCI-Media Impact, headquartered in New York City.
For 30 years, PCI has worked with local partners to produce more than 3,000 episodes of 75 television and radio programs addressing our most pressing social and environmental issues. Their motto is “Tell a story, change the world” and their programs have reached more than one billion people in more than 40 countries.
As they approached their 25th anniversary, PCI asked Rain Barrel to help them through a crisis. Their Director of Programs had moved on, projects in Africa and Asia had dried up, and there was only enough funding to cover a handful of radio programs in Latin America.
We stepped in to fill the gap as they searched for the right person to take up the post. In the course of a few months, we helped headquarters and field staff, management, fundraisers and Advisory Board members in a productive rethink of mission, programmatic priorities, monitoring and evaluation methodologies, communication strategies, fund-raising and partnerships.
We also helped to identify and hire the new Program Director, who not long afterwards became Executive Director and CEO, Sean Southey. Soon, PCI was rebuilt and reinvented as a leader in the field of edutainment, with a greatly expanded programmatic, geographical and funding base.