Communication for Social Change

Bangkok, February 15, 2014

This week went by so quickly! We had a day off on Monday, after returning from Mae Sot and from Tuesday to Thursday we immersed ourselves in a communications workshop. One of my favorite topics -you guessed right! Alex, who graduated from the Fellowship’s Class XIV taught it and he was great. Coincidentally I’ve been meaning to meet him for a while as we’re both UNAOC Fellows, so this was a unique opportunity to connect.

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We went from discussing successful communication campaigns, to designing one -and ours was for a real scenario. After hearing from experiences around the room, these are some of the lessons learned:

  • It’s not just about the message
  • Create a space that didn’t exist
  • Include the target audience
  • Don’t be afraid of structures
  • Create relationships
  • Outcomes are not always measurable
  • Perseverance

So many good examples came to my mind, that I’d like to share in the blog, here are some of my favorite communication interventions from the around the world…with a reminder that these are used online to get people engaged offline too:

–       Coca Cola Small World Machine (India ❤ Pakistan)

–       Daily Talk in Liberia 

–       PBS’ “Women, War & Peace” documentary series

One interesting realization from this workshop was how -sadly- in most organizations there’s little cooperation between Operations, Communications and Fundraising.  We closed the workshop by presenting our communication interventions, where we explained target, topic and frame and then showed the class our interview and press releases and received feedback from the group. The best part was working on a real case for a campaign on behalf of tea workers in Assam, India. Read more about what’s going on in that side of the world through  this report from Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute.

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My team mates during the communications campaign exercise. 

Had we have more time allocated for this workshop I would have liked to discuss with other fellows the communication campaigns in which their countries have engaged in and discuss more issues of public diplomacy -a tool that in some parts of the world is not taken for granted.

On the social front… This week we had a big social event with the Rotary Counselors at the Goethe Institut. It was a good opportunity to exchange more with my counselor Penny and others -a group of very committed Rotarians- who made us laugh, sing karaoke with us and talk lots over good food.  A couple of new places some of us explored this week in Bangkok were: Condoms and Cabbages on Thursday (nice setting, food was alright and pricey) and DaMamma’s Pizza on Sunday night (finally, some decent pizza, definitely check it out).

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