Civil Society Communication and Human Rights

By Paul Kisolo

Communication plays a great role both at the organizational level and in our personal lives. Hence it’s important  that other people, the public and the other intended audiences are communicated to about organizational activities in order to encourage feedback,  collaboration and networking. The networking comes in handy to ensure that  we preserve the scarce resources, mobilize more resources, market our activities, get assistance in areas where we are limited and also add skills from learning from the others.

Organizations play an important role in the society by  addressing the different challenges faced by communities. They also develop new strategies to educate communities and develop linkages to solve these challenges. For this reason it’s important for all organizations to understand the powers and influence that communication may in general may have towards our work. The media of communication are many and may include the social networks, media houses, the community dissemination points etc.  In developing an effective communication strategy,  it is important to systematically understand the goals and the roles, the  energy to be invested in the communication process, tools, the media, the message and the audience. I will treat each of these topics briefly.

Goals and Roles

I intend to address organizations that work to address social injustices in different locations of our country. It is important that they understand why they need to communicate. Understanding clearly their need to communicate and also the need for feedback, will help them better their interventions. With proper understanding of the goals and roles it will be very easy to design communication that will influence other stakeholders, generate ideas, draw attention bringing positive change, educate and express their identity

Communication process

Communication process is very important.  A Process may be defined as: ‘a particular course of action intended to achieve a result.’ The desire to have  effective communication will lead any organization start by identifying  stakeholders,  the communications needs of these stakeholders, type of communications event effective to target these stakeholder as well as ensuring that  the right people receive the right information at the right time. More so understanding communication process  ensures that communication hitches  do not occur and future communication are improved.

The communication process is very important as it assists  in identifying the right message, the target audience, the message format and timing, draft message and facilitates the gaining of approval where required. It also helps in deciding the type of communications events, how to gather feedback and improve your communication processes.

Communications Tools

There are a number of communication tools that a project or organization can use at its disposal some these tools include: E-mails, blogs, websites, social communication media, telephone, letters, etc. to communicate with its partners and stakeholders it is important that an organization or projects uses the tools that are least costly but most effective and that will achieve the intended impacts.

Media Relations

Media plays an important role in enhancing the reputation of organizations. This positive reputation in turn  assists in attracting resources to our organizations where as negative reputation will hinder the attraction of these resources. Apart from the resource issue, the media may also assist organizations to market themselves or champion for an important course, or even pursue an advocacy campaign.

In order to create a good relationship with the media it is important for projects or organizations determines the capacity ad capabilities of human resources who will be involved in communication endeavor, technicalities involved. Important factors that may influence the communication process should also be determined to ensure that we avoid small mistakes that can cost our organizations both in the short and long run.

Knowing the media

Knowing the media is as essential as it helps you to understand clearly the target of entry point at the time of forming relationships with  media houses. This prior knowledge is important as it helps organizations  have the right amount of budget for its communication purposes. It’s  important that the civil society actors  have a clear understanding of the media given that they need the media to communicate their messages. The civil societies are also competing for the same communication space with profit making organizations who have large budgets for communication.  Despite the challenge, that faces the civil societies where their only focus are the  social issues,  they must also think about communication  and allocate some budget for it. On the other hand, understanding the media houses could lead to network formation with the journalists and media house owners. This too could be a resource.

Pitching Ideas

Coming up with the right ideas for communication may not be an easy thing. Some of the issues to consider when pitching up ideas for communication include the styles of communication  and the creativity required to communicate. When creating stories it’s important to come up with stories that are different from what others have been presenting , it’s also important to relate  lessons gained in the previous  communication  to better the current ones.

Target Audience

There are a number of Audiences that our communications may be targeted to such as the government, local citizen, partners and collaborators etc. It’s very important to know the right media to use when creating communications targeted different Audience. In this case for our projects to get the audience of the government we can use commercial media, we can reach the local communities by use of local FM station, printed media, etc.

Creating the message

It is important to define the message and structure it into two or three wording about your organizations and the activities. It is also necessary   to have something specific  that embraces all your ideas. This is important given that most journalists  or media  houses work in a specific angle which regulate order of reporting, with this in mind we need to create messages that take the same angles as reporters and journalist.

Avoiding the traps

During most communication when dealing with the reporter there are a number of traps that we create  for ourselves. This may sometime  put us in awkward positions that are difficult to explain. Thus it is important that when we create messages we have these records for future references, we should create clear messages  as well as keeping records of all communications.

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