Effective communication is driven by the purpose of the campaign: what must change and who needs to be reached so as to bring about change? Within the overall campaign strategy, the communication strategy defines how to capture the attention of the target audiences and convey a compelling campaign message.
During the campaign planning process, the problem has been identified, the situation analyzed, the stakeholders and target audiences identified, and the campaign objectives or intended outcomes set. This forms the basis to begin crafting a communications strategy.
The following are the mains steps involved in developing a communications strategy:
2. Develop key messages that effectively speak to target audiences: Messages should be tailored to resonate with the target audience(s) – various versions of the message may need to be prepared to reach different audiences. For example, the message that ‘violence against women is a violation of human rights’ could be understood differently by a parliamentarian, a religious leader, or a village elder. It may need to be adjusted – while maintaining the essence of the meaning – to be better understood. It is also important to consider who will deliver the messages, i.e. the “messengers”. For example, behaviour-change messages resonate better from peer groups of the target audience, but awareness and advocacy messages might resonate better from celebrities and politicians. See also Crafting the Campaign Message.
Australia: The state-wide public education campaign ‘Violence Against Women: It’s Against All the Rules’ run by the VAW Specialist Unit in New South Wales, Australia in 2000-2001, specifically aimed to build community capacity to confront the issue of VAW by involving high-profile sportsmen to deliver the message to young men that such behavior is unacceptable. One of the key evaluation findings of the campaign was that the use of ‘sports language and terms’ to phrase the campaign message added to the masculine appeal of the campaign, as it stressed the fact that the message was being delivered by men to men (and importantly, ‘iconic/role model’ men to other men). This aided men’s comprehension of the message – ‘violence against women is wrong’. Also, the strong, clear image of sportsmen was the ‘hook’ that captured men’s attention – the majority of men surveyed (89.06%) could recall at least one of the sports personalities featured. Read the campaign case study.
Mauritania – A project started by midwives in Mauritania to assist survivors of sexual violence benefited immensely from the participation of local imams. The Mauritanian Association for Mother and Child Health (AMSME), a local NGO, was funded by UNFPA and others to increase their training and community education activities around sexual violence. AMSME provides a variety of programs for women and girls, but one of their key strategies in working to change public opinion was to bring imams on board with the project. Project founders targeted progressive imams and gained their support. Imams attended local sensitization workshops and justified the project as a humanitarian program that would benefit the suffering and vulnerable. Imams ultimately developed religious rationales for project activities such as counseling and providing medical care to rape victims. Imams gathered evidence from the Koran and took it to police, magistrates, and government officials to garner support for assistance to rape survivors. See: UNFPA, Programming to Address Violence Against Women: 10 Case Studies, 1-10 (2006).
3. Identify effective communication channels, techniques and tools: One can distinguish between interpersonal channels (one-on-one contact), community-oriented channels that use existing social networks, and media channels (including modern mass media such as radio and TV, “new media” such as the internet and SMS, and “folk media”, e.g. story-telling and traditional cultural performances). What are the techniques and tools that are most likely to effectively reach the audience(s) through these different channels?
Evaluations suggest that behavior change campaigns are most effective when they keep repeating the message (a technique) and combine different channels, including person-to-person contact.4. Map accessible communication resources: These include for example, media production skills, access to free air-time or pro bono work by experts, and availability of suitable materials from other (e.g. international and national-level) campaigns.
6. Write up a communication strategy document: This is essential to clearly define, layout and track all the key steps mentioned above. A written document can also be shared easily with all campaigners to ensure that everyone is ‘on the same page’, in terms of messaging and how communications activities will be conducted.
Issues to bear in mind: