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CIVICUS Media Strategy 2011-2012: Being heard in the information circus. Table of Contents. SWOT Analysis The Strategy Content: Key messages and issues Tailoring to our audience Choosing the right channel Putting it into action Tracking our success * Tips: Best channel for your message.

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civicus media strategy 2011 2012 being heard in the information circus

CIVICUS Media Strategy2011-2012: Being heard in the information circus

table of contents
Table of Contents
  • SWOT Analysis
  • The Strategy
  • Content: Key messages and issues
  • Tailoring to our audience
  • Choosing the right channel
  • Putting it into action
  • Tracking our success

* Tips: Best channel for your message

swot analysis
SWOT Analysis


  • CIVICUS is quite well known and well regarded globally
  • Several communications resources already exist (i.e. e-CIVICUS)
  • Potential to use our member/partner/donor/other constituent networks
  • Part of the established civil society network/included in global dialogue
  • Global network of partners/members/staff for ‘on the ground’ comment
  • The World Assembly as the largest gathering of civil society organisations
  • Represented at many global forums (with significant media coverage)

Building/using these strengths better has huge potential for improving our media/communication work.

swot analysis1
SWOT Analysis


  • CIVICUS identity has in the past been limited to just one voice, and one face (the SG)
  • Difficulty reaching grassroot organisations
  • Poor media connections, particularly with key journalists involved in civil society dialogue
  • Lack of single vision for CIVICUS voice – represent CIVICUS, its members or all of civil society?
  • Poor internal communication between units/projects and Communication Unit to identify key issues
  • Little funding for professional consultants and services
  • Little value given to media work – perceived as more work, rather than a benefit to work.
  • Poor understanding of the role and skills of communication staff and the support they can provide
  • Poor coordination of media work between units/projects and the Communication Unit – leads to disjointed media relations
  • Media work has been ‘reactive’ to project requests rather than ‘pro-active’ to engage in ongoing civil society dialogue

swot analysis2
SWOT Analysis


  • Growing recognition for civil society’s role in global decision-making
  • Converging crises are bringing civil society ‘issues’ to the forefront
  • Increasing recognition of need to build bridges between sectors and issues
  • No other organisation is focused on ‘civil society’ like CIVICUS, particularly at the global level
  • Potential for CIVICUS to be ‘go-to’ organisation for media on civil society
  • CIVICUS is perceived as ‘neutral’ and a global voice with a foundation in the South – provide comment easily

swot analysis3
SWOT Analysis


  • Lack of clarity on who CIVICUS is and what it can offer the global dialogue
  • Competition for larger, better resourced organisations (Human Rights Watch, Amnesty etc)
  • Difficulty connecting with members and grassroots threatens our role as ‘voice of civil society’
  • Threat to civil society space impact member/civil society ability to engage with CIVICUS – may impact CIVICUS ability to work as well
  • Use of English marginalises ability to engage in civil society dialogue around the world
  • Digital divide threatens ability to communicate equally with all civil society



A worldwide community of informed, inspired, committed citizens engaged in confronting the challenges facing humanity.


Improved understanding of CIVICUS and civil society among stakeholders and the general public


CIVICUS is the ‘go to’ source of information on and about civil society

  • Strengthen the CIVICUS brand and reputation
  • Strengthen the dialogue on/of civil society to broaden its reach and understanding of civil society and its issues

Without achieving 1, we cannot achieve 2.

our added value
Our Added Value

In order to have the media (and other audiences) pay attention to our communications – they must have a value added. Our added value stems from:

  • Niche focus on civil society (rights, practices, influence)
  • Access to grassroots/member network
  • International reach
  • Research and analysis

Our communication must draw on this to add value for media. CIVICUS is not:

  • A breaking news organisation
  • An organisation that focuses on all human rights and social development issues
  • A so highly recognised organisation that anything we produce/say is of immediate interest.

We can not communicate as if we are.

overview of the plan
Overview of the plan


Focused communication of CIVICUS (project etc) and civil society information directly linked to the CIVICUS vision/mission as articulated in the 2009-2012 Strategic Directions


Consistent, coordinated, professional communication delivered through multiple channels.


Stakeholders, general public discuss and ponder the topic and value of CIVICUS and civil society issues.

crafting effective communication
Crafting Effective Communication

Developing value-added communication requires three elements:

  • Solid content: research, analysis (i.e. Policy), comment from the ground (i.e. convening)
  • Targeted tailoring: Clear understanding of the audience and tailoring of the content for their consumption
  • Right channel: Careful choice of channel is required to be effective (For example, many influential journalists will ignore a press release simply because once on a press release every other journo has that same story and therefore it is no longer “news”.)

All three elements must be right for communication to be effective.

In addition, in all communication must have: bait (attract interest), a problem (issue), a solution, benefits and importantly a call to action (what to do/where to go).

key messages
Key Messages

In all our messaging, CIVICUS does not normally take an overtly adversarial position in order to leave the door open to engage with governments and multi-lateral institutions. Our approach is one of constructive criticism due to our natural role as a convenor of multiple stakeholders. In 2011, communication will focus on messages around CIVICUS Themes (2011-2012):

Civil society produced knowledge

  • Those who ‘live’ an issue, have a unique knowledge/understanding of the issue
  • The knowledge of local communities directly affected by issues needs to be incorporated into decision making at all levels.

Civil society space

  • Civil society is under threat – from restrictive legislation to physical attacks
  • People have the right to act non-violently for their common interests
  • Freedom of assembly, association and expression are fundamental for civil society to thrive

key messages1
Key Messages

Civil society legitimacy and accountability

  • Civil society must be accountable to be effective
  • In order to hold governments and corporations accountable, civil society must itself be accountable
  • Government restrictions on civil society imposed in the name of accountability are not valid – civil society must develop its own collective measures for accountability

Civil society effectiveness

  • The voices of civil society have a right to be heard in decisions that affect them
  • The voices of civil society need to be incorporated into decision making at all levels including in local, regional and global governance
  • CIVICUS has the responsibility to ensure the voices of civil society are heard, particularly at the global level

civil society media issues 2012
Civil Society/Media Issues 2012

In order to be relevant, CIVICUS key messages will be targeted through key civil society/media issues including:

  • Climate change
  • Shrinking civil society space
  • Advancement of democratic freedoms
  • Development effectiveness
  • Volunteerism (IYV+10)
  • Gender and women issues
  • Financial crisis, poverty, food scarcity
  • Millennium Development Goals
  • Government accountability


The media is a means to reach other audiences – different media need to be targeted to reach different audiences. CIVICUS’ main audiences are:

Primary audience:

Civil society organisations and activists such as NGOs, grass roots organisations, trade unions etc. Includes both those already familiar with CIVICUS and the issues we deal with and those who are not.

Secondary audience:

Other sectors/categories interested in civil society and development issues. Includes:

  • Government representatives
  • Representatives from international institutions
  • Donors
  • Academics

Tertiary audience:

The general public – Not a main target given the complexity/accessibility of the issues we deal with, but on key topics may be important to try to reach.


Many available channels (room to be creative) but must fit audience and objective – include:

  • Direct contact: speeches and presentations at CSO events (potential to place at as sound slides), direct to journalists.
  • Media: newspapers, radio, online, journals (best for analysis discussion, opportunity for more in-depth), advertising (see Top Line Media Platforms)
  • CIVICUS publications: E-CIVICUS, CSW Monthly Bulletin, AGNA newsletter, annual report
  • Online platfroms: CIVICUS platforms (, CSWonline, etc) and other platforms (see Opinion Piece Platforms)
  • Social media: CSI blog, Facebook, Twitter, Blog, YouTube
  • New vehicles: Webinars, podcasts, video

See “Best channel for your message” for help identifying an appropriate channel.

target top line media platform priorities
Target: Top-line media platform priorities
  • International Development Publications:

WHAT:IPS News, IRIN news,, One World Trust , One World International Foundation (OWIF), Open Democracy Digest, Reliefweb, commongroundnews,

WHEN: Global call to action/message solidarity, voice of member obtained, issue requires mass mobalisation, international appeal, opinion piece

2. International newswires:

WHAT: AFP, AP, Reuters, DPA

WHEN: Adding new facts into the dialogue

3. Regionally focused:

WHAT: Africa (Pambazuka, PANOS, Biz Community, African Press Agency, ANSA)

Europe (Telegraph, BBC, The Guardian, Tagesspiegel, Tageszeitung , Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Le Soir, Liberation, Publico, Deutsche Well, ARD, Global Post, NPR, NYT/IHT Foreign Policy

MENA (Channel 16, Al Jazeera…)

ASIA (One World South Asia, ABC)

LATIN AMERICA (Boletín La sociedad civil)

WHEN:Key message deliverables/Reports

opinion piece platforms monitor comment
Opinion piece platformsmonitor comment

TARGET: Monitor comment and respond

  • AlertNet Insights
  • Center for Global Development
  • Civitas
  • Guardian: Comment is free
  • Development Researcher
  • ELDIS Community
  • Private Sector Development (World Bank)
  • Ideas for Development
  • IMF Public Finance Management Blog
  • People, Spaces, Deliberation - World Bank Communication for Governance & Accountability Program blog
  • From Poverty to Power, by Duncan Green
  • Millennium Villages
  • IMFdirect - global economy forum
  • Development in a Changing Climate - World Bank
  • Ideas for Development
  • Aid on the edge of chaos - blog on complexity science and aid
  • Let's talk development - blog hosted by Chief Economist of the World Bank
  • On think tanks

media plan
Media Plan

To be effective, CIVICUS needs to be proactive, not just reactive, in engaging in global civil society dialogue. To do so, we will:

  • Monitor key channels, identify civil society themes and opportunities for CIVICUS to engage
  • Actively engage in dialogue on civil society issues (identified above) with a focus on CIVICUS key messages
  • Use the World Assembly to engage the media in the civil society dialogue
  • Use both online and traditional media channels
  • Actively explore using voice (radio/podcasts) and video (Online TV) as alternatives to written communication
  • Engage with and coordinate project communication/media work

  • Regular ‘touch-base’ communication meetings to identify upcoming CIVICUS outputs, key issues in civil society, communication opportunities
  • Media monitoring plan
  • Project communication plans (identify potential, key vehicles, responsibility etc)

monitoring evaluation
Monitoring & Evaluation
  • Outputs (number of releases, posts, blogs)
  • Pick-up (stories that result- Media Monitoring)
  • Feedback (Move from pursuing journalists to being pursued)



  • Monthly columns on important issues for CIVICUS
  • Fortnightly press releases
  • Fortnightly blog postings
  • Five tweets per day
  • One-two Facebook posts per day


  • 1 story in a targeted media outlet per month
  • 1 comment/article/response on an opinion piece platform per month
  • 35 re-tweets per month
  • 200 Interactions (likes/comments/posts) on Facebook per month

Feedback: Average of 1 media inquiry per month

best channel best message
Best channel, best message

Press Release/Call to action: Formally broadcasts communication from CIVICUS to a mass audience; media, partners, members, stakeholders and government bodies

  • GOOD BECAUSE: Sends a clearly defined message and quotes from spokespeople, is sent directly to individuals, can be formally traced, can have “click through” link to info.
  • WORKS BEST WHEN: There is an announcement of genuine interest, is accompanied by a strong, informed, message with up to date information from “the ground”. Helps establish positions and standings of those in the organisation, quotes unlikely to be misused. Can be targeted to member network newsletters with a local angle/spokesperson/advocate.. an area of potential growth.
  • RISKS: Being ignored by the media, confusing if CIVICUS has not been a part of the issue dialogue before. Need to be strategic.

best channel best message1
Best channel, best message

Direct to journalist:Sending approved material directly to, speaking directly with a journalist: on print, radio, online, TV.

  • GOOD BECAUSE: Efficient, minimal approval, direct (live radio the most direct/no editing), more likely to “get a run” when fed directly to a journalist, transparent, use of specialists.
  • WORKS BEST WHEN: The subject is confident, disciplined and prepared for all possible questions. Used with journalists you trust + who have the industry’s best interests at heart. Messages are clear and demonstrated with examples...use training/mock interviews/Q+A’s, songsheets.
  • RISKS: Losing control of the message, getting side-tracked onto dangerous areas, getting trapped into a pre-determined agenda. “Playing favourites” can backfire and erode trust.
  • SUITS: A serious issue to be communicated with detail.

best channel best message2
Best channel, best message

E-CIVICUS:CIVICUS newsletter, send directly to CSO organisations, members, partners, stakeholders

  • GOOD BECAUSE: CIVICUS completely controls the message. Valued, has many messages across the CSO. A direct and accountable form of communication.
  • POOR BECAUSE: Needs regular contributors, over crowded, limited to an audience already familiar to CIVICUS and its issues
  • WORKS BEST WHEN: Wide range topics, eye catching with relevant topics, when analysis is demonstrated, delivers insight into CIVICUS work.
  • RISKS: Works best for short stories and is generally just a “news” vehicle.

best channel best message3
Best channel, best message

OPINION PIECE:Direct and informed column to newspapers, online

  • GOOD BECAUSE: Direct message, helps establish the exact position of CIVICUS.
  • WORKS BEST WHEN: Analytical, personalised, to the point, strong view
  • RISKS: Reactionary rather than pro-active in a debate. Risks not being read and not being published.

best channel best message4
Best channel, best message

WEBINAR:Live moderated presentation online using audio and visual, up to 100 participants

  • GOOD BECAUSE: Effective targeted communication, relatively easy to use technology, creates an “online community” and network for a topic, breaks across international boundaries, moderated discussion reduces unhealthy discussion, good way to communicate with early adopters and leaders, can be recorded and placed at for further interested parties.
  • WORKS BEST WHEN: involves technical information Eg. LTA, PG
  • RISKS: Broadband internet required, possible technical issues, IT support needed, presenter training, timing (what time is best to run?)

best channel best message5
Best channel, best message

PUBLIC SPEAKING:Direct speaking at key stakeholder meetings.

  • GOOD BECAUSE: Out there, transparent, communicating/listening. Opportunity to demonstrate CIVICUS value.
  • WORKS BEST WHEN: Speaker knows their audience, is engaging, passionate, relevant. Sticks to key messages.
  • RISKS: Dull presentation, unexpected questioning, unknown media attendance and poor coverage.

best channel best message6
Best channel, best message

Social media: CSI blog/facebook/twitter

  • GOOD BECAUSE: Instant, two-way communication, feedback, monitor views, transparent, communicating/listening. Opportunity to demonstrate CIVICUS value.
  • WORKS BEST WHEN: Content centres on quantitative research/outcome, is followed up, has a key differentiated message, simple language.
  • RISKS: Unexpected questioning, lost in social media spin