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  • Uploaded on Mwananchi communications strategy. Partners’ meeting, Lusaka. Tristan Stubbs, ODI. 8 May2012. Contents. Recap Audience and comms channels Why blog? Writing effective digital content Tips for writing succinctly Using existing networks – twitter

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mwananchi communications strategy

Mwananchi communications strategy

Partners’ meeting, Lusaka

Tristan Stubbs, ODI

8 May2012

  • Recap
  • Audience and comms channels
  • Why blog?
  • Writing effective digital content
  • Tips for writing succinctly
  • Using existing networks – twitter
  • Mwananchi website – purpose and development
  • Content: stories, and how should we gather them?
  • Impact stories
  • Appropriate media / technologies
  • Next steps
  • Questions
  • Communications strategy activities include knowledge sharing, information dissemination and facilitated dialogue between stakeholders of the Mwananchiprogramme
  • The key aims of the strategy are that:

1. evidence-based approaches lead to increased demand for social accountability

2. knowledge is communicated and shared in a way that strengthens good governance

3. effective communication channels are developed and sustained within the programme

  • Key point is that we can’t separate communications from online communications – we need to consider everything in the round – this is the aim of this presentation
why blog
Why blog?
  • Blogs are crucial – even academic researchers will only have time to read blogs – and are important for reaching key audiences (media; CSOs; policy-makers)
  • Blogs are also easily shared, both through social media and on other high-profile websites. Higher policy impact
writing effective digital content
Writing effective digital content
  • People consume digital text in very different ways to how they consume offline/print media.
    • They scan rather than reading word for word
    • They read as much as they want and nothing more, (or if they do, they may print things out to read offline)
    • They may have arrived at content accidentally and be unfamiliar with the project
    • They pay more attention to lists than continuous paragraphs
  • Therefore, great digital content is:
    • Concise: keep word count to 50% of what you would write offline
    • ‘Scannable’: all sign-posting needs to be easy to understand out of context, as readers may not arrive via the home page
    • Credible: Our content needs to be professional, accurate and consistent to be differentiated from the vast quantity of low-quality information available on the web.
    • Self-contained: Never assume a reader has read or will read anything other than the page they are looking at – it needs to make sense on its own
    • Searchable: optimising the use of keywords will help users find our content
tips for writing succinctly
Tips for writing succinctly
  • Tips for keeping content succinct:
    • Get to the point quickly and stay focused on it
    • Use plain language e.g. instead of ‘endeavour’?:
      • ‘try’
    • Instead of ‘instigate’?
      • ‘start’
    • Use the active voice, not the passive e.g. instead of ‘the presentation was given by Tristan’
      • ‘Tristan gave the presentation’
  • Paragraphs should be 3 sentences maximum
  • Edit – cut words that don’t add anything and link to content covered elsewhere rather than repeating it
  • If the article is long, start by scoping out what’s to come by listing sections
  • Explain acronyms (even common ones, such as ODI)
  • Use short words and sentences (15-20 words per sentence)
  • Imagine you are talking to your reader and write sincerely and personally
  • Titles and descriptions are the most important part. Good titles are:
  • - Findable – using keywords and plain language
  • - Descriptive, not clever (avoid puns that don’t make sense out of context)
  • - Instantly understandable
  • - Readable in a list
  • Links
  • Don’t: write ‘click here’ or ‘read more’ or make links too long
  • Do: Give a clear, meaningful description
  • Refer to the Mwananchi style guideand ‘Writing effective digital content’ for more information – Tristan will send
using existing networks twitter
Using existing networks - twitter
  • Why tweet?
    • No need to ‘reinvent the wheel’: ready-made, engaged audience – key audience for Mwananchi
    • People now get use twitter to get info – we need to exploit this fact
    • 60% of Africa's most active Tweeters are aged 20-29
    • Increases traffic to Mwananchiwebsite, and popularity of Mwananchi content on the web
  • Getting started
    • Download tweetdeck
    • Lists – pull together lists of people from within your organisations
      • Some groundwork required: locating who are the decision-makers on each issue – audit of contacts, perhaps according to expertise / theme
      • Lists of e.g. bloggers and key figures who are sympathetic but might not wholly agree
  • How to get followers
    • Start tweeting!
    • Let friends know you’ve joined twitter and get them to welcome you
    • Retweet
    • Direct message people who follow you, then FF them on Friday
  • What to tweet
    • Reply to people; thank them for retweets
    • Pose questions
    • Use tone so people know you’re human
    • People find it valuable when pass other info on – not necessarily your own
    • Tweets should be like headlines
    • Keep it short! (140 characters)
    • Use hashtags (#), especially for events, and think about how to promote them
    • Get people to tweet when travel if possible
  • Things to remember
    • Consider the time investment; plan – tweet eg stats from reports every day; check spelling
  • Further information
    • Tristan will send these links and ‘How to twitter’ – hard copies available
mwananchi website purpose and development
Mwananchi website – purpose and development


  • Evidence gathering for results
  • Use site as influencing tool, but also 'shopfront'
  • Advocacy toolkits on site (eg IPS toolkit)
  • Systematic evidence sharing and knowledge management through resource library?
  • Transparency / impact / M and E

All link to Output 4: Models of good practice are promoted within communities of practice to ensure sustained and

widespread availability to CSOs, media and elected representatives

  • Related deliverables and activities
    • 4.1 Sharing lessons
    • 4.1.1 Contribute to content of Mwananchi website
    • 4.1.2 Share experiences and lessons (eg case studies, publications) on partner platform

Biggest issues are therefore around how info is shared; who decides on what goes on the site; Quality Assurance (QA) procedures

  • Need for systematisation:
    • Content tracker– Tristan will distribute; please update with what’s missing from your section of the website, but also check for reports; baseline studies; brochures; posters; media artcicles etc that can be uploaded now
    • Help with uploading – great if you could do this. The CMS is time-consuming and fiddly but straightforward. Please first pass through me for QA reasons
    • M and E and transparency – what needs to go online?
content stories and how should we gather them
Content: stories, and how should we gather them?
  • Stories can have more of an impact than research-based evidence, especially with the press
  • Guidance available: RAPID; DfID; epbdn
    • Tristan will distribute guidelines
  • Take photos as much as you can – develop photo library
  • MediaAction Plan – can be used for any project; especially useful for working out whether online comms are appropriate, and what can go on website – Tristan can help and give guidance
  • Interview with NCOs, grantees or stakeholders to capture stories? Audio and video – NCOs can do interviews. Tristan can provide guidance
  • Thing about different forms of communication, both online and offline:
    • E.g. short (1,000 word) case studies instead / in addition to working papers?
impact stories
Impact stories
  • Results are good sources of stories
    • Tell stories as part of reporting cycle
  • Review of best approach for telling ‘most significant change’ stories in next couple of weeks – we will ask for contributions
  • How best to account for challenges of context – i.e. how to overcome ‘softness’ and ‘conceptual fuzziness’, as well as the political context
  • Will we need to reconfigure the Mwananchi website to reflect impact and regional focus?
    • Thematicfocus
    • More news from countries?
      • Needs much a much more frequent flow of information
      • CMS is simple enough for anyone to edit
appropriate media technologies
Appropriate media / technologies

Website-based communications have drawbacks:

  • Resources
  • Challenges - low level of internet access
  • Solely focusing on the internet therefore excludes audiences with reduced access: equity issue

Examples of potentially more audience-appropriate technologies:

  • Mailchimp – e-newsletter program – is free and has potentially much greater reach as stakeholders can read messages on mobile phones
  • Mwananchi newsletter will appear imminently – we will send for comment; please share contacts
  • Consider ways to best communicate programme’s final outputs:
    • Developing publications that synthesise the big issues
    • Working in local languages?
    • Tristan will develop and share media action plan around final outputs.
    • Remember that we should also develop stories of the successes and challenges around engaging with the media. Mesfin mentioned the difficulty of organising a media discussion forum because the focus of the discussion was ‘governance’; Andrew discussed how we need to know what and how to sell to the media
    • Need therefore to look at messages as well as channels – Tristan will distribute ODI guide on messages; consider e.g. how messages might change depending on audience – stakeholders; traditional leaders; MPs
next steps
  • Always available for adviceon editing, messaging etc.
  • Will feed comments and info gathered here into updated commsstrategy, which will then be shared with partners for further review
  • Once ‘most significant change’ template agreed, Tristan will discuss and develop with NCOs individual ‘impact stories action plan’, including a ‘blog action plan’
    • it would be very helpful to have at least one blog from each country over the next year – Tristan will draft a timetable
  • Please consider setting up a twitter account (see MwananchiGhana)
  • Audit your contacts to ‘add’ on twitter and to send them the newsletter
  • Audit your section of the websiteand think about what stories are missing
  • Audit all publications that need to go on website;
  • Consider who would be best for you to interview for audio or video recording – e.g. your grantees. Tristan will provide guidance
    • Please also contact Tristan while you’re in Zambia, so he can interview you!
  • Tristan will send through things promised here; Sarah or Tristan will send through a list of actions
  • Consider how best you want to capture the impact of your communications, and discuss with Tristan how to represent this best on the website
  • Webinar
  • Budget
111 westminster bridge road london se1 7jd t 44 207 9220 300

The Mwananchi Programme promotes local governance issues to strengthen citizens’ voices and improve governance and accountability in Africa. The project, funded by the UK Department for International Development, focuses on building 'coalitions of change' comprised of three key interlocutors in the citizen–state relationship: the media, civil society organisations (CSOs) and elected representatives.

The views presented here are those of the speaker, and do not necessarily represent the views of Mwananchi, ODI or our partners.

111 Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1 7JD

T: +44 207 9220 300