Communicate in a strategic way: Questions for a grassroots discussion

 There are different levels on which your community may wish to communicate:

  • internally – e.g., making sure that everyone knows the rules and regulations for the territory; celebrating the community’s relationship with the territory; enhancing care for and commitment to the territory across generations; increasing community self-awareness, transparency, and accountability;
  • across the local landscape – e.g., raising awareness about the territory of life, including the rules and regulations; enhancing respect from and helping to coordinate with custodian communities of other territories of life and other actors; and
  • at the national and/or international level and with relevant territory of life networks – e.g., backing-up appropriate recognition and support for the territory of life and/or territories of life in general.

Useful questions for planning strategic and effective communication include:

… the Why, Who and What?

  • Why do we want to communicate about our territory of life?
  • Who are the audiences we wish to reach and what are our specific objectives for our diverse audiences, i.e. what do we wish them to understand and do?
  • Are we ready to move from information to real communication, i.e., to receive feedback and engage in open conversations?
  • What specific information or “story” do we wish to share with each audience? (e.g., that we care for and protect our territory?  that we face threats?  that we could seize opportunities together with other communities?…)

… the How and Where of sharing an information or story

  • Holding direct exchanges in informal or formal meetings and/or celebrations within our community and with neighbouring communities;
  • organising walks inside the territory of life with both elders and youth, ensuring enough time to discuss information in depth;
  • creating and sharing radio programmes, video- and photo-stories, street or village theatre, poems, or songs about our territory;
  • inviting journalists to do interviews or writing content for newspapers, radio, television, or our own publications;
  • writing and diffusing leaflets, articles, books or posters;
  • asking our schoolteachers to hold topical discussions with our kids in school;
  • making sure that someone in the community sets up a web site about our territory of life and organises a group exchange in the most common social media available in our community;
  • convincing our youth active in social media that information with direct relevance about the territory of life could and should be shared in their own networks—in particular when the territory is under threat or it is time to celebrate an important achievement.

…and the risks, opportunities, capacities and resources

  • Are there risks in sharing information about the territory of life – e.g. exacerbating conflicts or drawing unwanted attention? How can these be avoided or minimised?
  • Are there opportunities in sharing information about the territory of life – e.g. enhanced support and security for the territory of life and the custodian community? How can those be optimised?
  • Within the community, who can best contribute to communication efforts? Are there specific communication skills and resources that we could effectively use (e.g., people with theatre skills, writing skills, a great voice, social media experience)?
  • Should our community establish a specific communication team or committee?
  • Is there a need for external support for our communication activities? If yes, for what?

Your communication is strategic when the intent is clear, the pros and cons have been thoroughly discussed, and meaningful communication decisions are taken and implemented. Your communication is effective when it achieves its expected results.