Strategic communication is uniquely situated to foster these development goals and help overcome some of the above challenges because it facilitates both individual level and societal level changes. It consists of three key approaches advocacy, social mobilisation, and programme communication also referred to as behaviour change communication.
Strategic Communication: is an evidence-based, results-oriented process, undertaken in consultation with the participant group(s). It linked to other programme elements, considering the local context, and using of multiplicity of communication approaches, to stimulate positive and measurable behaviour and social change.
Advocacy: Influencing Heart and Minds of Decision Makers Successful advocacy strategies aim to influence decision makers at various levels; at international, regional, national or district levels. Therefore, the advocacy component of the strategy should inform and motivate appropriate leaders to create a supportive environment for the programme by taking actions such as: changing policies, allocating resources, speaking out on critical issues, and initiating public discussion.
Possible results of an advocacy intervention can be targeted leaders taking actions such as:
■ Legal reform, or enactment of new law(s), or rules of business;
■ Policy decisions, formulation of and/or reform;
■ Administrative directives, rules; and
■ Resource mobilization, financial allocation. In addition, the advocacy component can build the capacity of leaders to become advocates themselves and speak out on issues pertinent to the programme to:
■ Strengthen political will and remove blockages;
■ Change funding priorities;
■ Support policy change; and
■ Address social barriers.
Social mobilization is a process of harnessing selected partners to raise demand for or sustain progress toward a development objective. Social mobilization enlists the participation of institutions, community networks and social and religious groups to use their membership and other resources to strengthen participation in activities at the grass-roots level.
Examples of groups that may get involved in social mobilization include school teachers and students, religious groups, farmers' cooperatives, micro-credit groups, civil society organizations, professional associations, women's groups and youth associations. Well-planned social mobilisation efforts also seek to empower communities to take control of their own situations, including accepting or rejecting interventions. Social mobilisation, integrated with other communication approaches, has been a key feature in numerous communication efforts worldwide.
Whether formal or non-formal, organizations selected for social mobilization should be chosen according to the following criteria:
■ Generally the group has a wide geographic spread over the country with a structure emanating from the national level down to lower levels of administration-to districts and below. Its participation in a cause can be triggered and activated at the national level.
■ The group is already known and accepted by the community targeted in the communication strategy.
Core elements of successful social mobilisation efforts and illustrates two experiences from the South Asia region – Nepal and Bangladesh - in order to further the understanding of effective planning of social mobilisation as an integral part of strategic communication processes. Some prominent examples include: (a) Soul City’s campaign against domestic violence in South Africa, (b) the UNICEF polio eradication campaign in Uttar Pradesh.
Communication material to support the work of social mobilizers includes something to identify their role in the campaign (caps, T-shirts, bags) as well as some simple informational materials such as brochures or flash cards to help with message delivery.
Behaviour Change Communication
Behaviour change communication involves face-to-face dialogue with individuals or groups to inform, motivate, problem-solve or plan, with the objective to promote behaviour change. Modern technology has recently enhanced the scope and reach of behaviour development communication such as radio and television 'talk shows' with phone-ins allowing for dialogue on a wider scale. The backbone of developing the behaviour change communication component of the strategy comes from a combination of data, participant and behavioural analyses and community input.
■ Which communication objectives need individualized information and problem-solving to be achieved (e.g. persuading caregivers of the importance of fully vaccinating their children)
■ Who are the most appropriate participants to conduct inter-personal communication (e.g. service providers, peer educators, NGO and government frontline workers, health workers, community leaders)
■ How will chosen communicators use inter-personal communication-(e.g. through programme activities, community meetings, house to house visits, during health clinic visits)
■ What is the capacity to undertake inter-personal communication (e.g. preparation could include sharing technical knowledge, communication skills training and encouraging the development of an appropriateoward the participant group being contacted)
■ How can the inter-personal communication activities of front line workers or volunteers be sustained? (e.g. what resources and activities are necessary for their continued motivation and support)
■ Have appropriate messages and materials been developed (e.g. messages which have been developed using community participation, problem solving, and dialogue)