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Print materials for reading

Last edited: January 03, 2012

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Most campaigns produce leaflets or booklets that spell out the campaign message in different ways and enrich it with additional information, such as key facts and figures on the campaign issue. Quality print materials lend permanence to the campaign message – campaigners and target audience members can keep a copy and refer to it later, e.g. as an accurate record of the evidence supporting the campaign message.

The types of reading materials needed depend on the overall campaign strategy, the campaign communication strategy and target audiences: For example, for high quality media coverage, briefing documents (policy briefs, press advisories) and media kits for journalists may be necessary. If international and national policy-makers are a crucial target audience, then a research report can be an effective tool to present pertinent evidence and a concrete proposal for action – possibly in the shape of precise policy recommendations or draft law provisions. Campaign activists may need a written guide to promote a coherent message. Young people may be attracted to the campaign message through colorful booklets presenting stories relevant to their daily lives. The options are virtually unlimited.

See Tools in “Earned” Media Coverage for guidance on creating media-related print materials such as press kits, press releases and media advisories. Petitions, letter-writing, policy briefs and research reports are commonly used in campaigns for institutional change. See Communication in Campaigns for Institutional Change for information on these.

Basic rules for producing reading materials:

  • Less is more: Producing print materials for reading requires substantial resources. One should focus on producing high quality materials that are most needed to reach the campaign goal. An excessively broad variety of print materials may waste resources and confuse the audience.
  • Language: Reading materials must be produced in the language and style target audiences are most likely to read and understand. In countries or communities, where there are several different languages used, it may be important to produce materials in these different languages to effectively reach target audiences. However, it is also important to note that there could be considerable related costs therefore e.g. translation, printing in different formats.
  • By definition, reading materials target a literate audience. If large sections of the audience have limited or no reading skills, it may be pointless to produce any reading materials – unless they are combined with other activities, e.g. activists explaining or translating the campaign message to the audience. The same caveat applies to audiences who do not speak the majority language, or who have visual impairments. Strong visuals can be an important way of communicating in these circumstances.
  • Distribution of print materials: print materials and other campaign paraphernalia need to be brought to their audience. A clear distribution strategy is needed to ensure that this is carefully planned and budgeted for. Leaflets and brochures may be distributed at campaign events, through public institutions, such as schools and medical clinics, or by campaign activists. Research reports and petitions may need to be hand-delivered to public officials, or made available at events like conferences or government meetings; they might also be announced or described at a press conference.


Example: In Nicaragua, Puntos de Encuentro circulates its magazine La Boletina to some 1.100 rural and urban women’s organizations throughout the entire country. The magazine reports on activities carried out by this broad spectrum of groups, publishes testimonies and analytical essays in simple language to provoke debate on women’s rights issues. “La Boletina” is disseminated through the volunteer network “las emboletinadas” made up of women’s and other community-based organizations which have a distribution tree crisscrossing the entire country and reaching even the most rural areas. The “emboletinadas” hand-carry the magazine to isolated communities which are not reached by the national post or other formal distribution systems.

Source: Lacayo, V. & Singhal, A., Pop Culture with a Purpose! Using edutainment media for social change, Oxfam Novib/KIC, 2008.