Thank you very much for your inquiry and the confidence you have placed in us.
To your question about the range of services we offer:
In principle, we can do anything you might have in mind. The only thing we really don’t do is to start on comms activity that makes no sense at all. :)
Basically, one should always discuss the strategy first. With that I mean who you want to target and for what purpose? Is it necessarily direct targeting or have you ever considered reaching out indirectly?
In any event, the purpose should ideally be more than just awareness-raising — though it’s clearly common in development communications to just go for awareness.
Why? Let me give you an example. When a company spends money on informing a customer, it will only do so if the increased knowledge on the side of the recipient results in a purchase or some other way of spending money. That is the so-called conversion that you want. Even branding and reputation building must “pay off” in some way or the other.
This consideration is difficult in our field. Nevertheless, it is an important guideline. We also need some kind of a conversion, maybe a tangible change of a behaviour that is critical to some aspect. So ideally, one should at least outline when one will consider communications action to have been successful.
On the eco-catastrophe and adversity: Wasn’t there a good article in ABC magazine? I’d like to take up this one in concrete terms. I think it also describes a WB project that has been described as successful. Maybe we could start there with media work. We could ask the author of this article how it was received, who the responsible person for it had been and why the editors decided on running the story in the first place. (Research)
In addition to research, a kind of market, competitor or media monitoring would also be useful, so that you can be alerted immediately when something is happening, especially if negative criticism is being mooted somewhere.
One can also identify with local staff or consultants who journalists are who are likely to be critical of the project and what motivates them. We can then get in contact with them. For example in form of a small function, an off-the-record media roundtable, maybe on another, slightly related topic. This needs to be warmed up slowly.
A local practitioner in or close to your office can also draw up a list of typical FLAK arguments – in other words, a compendium of what you can possibly expect. We can work through them one by one. What are the facts, how do I deal with them etc. The goal is to have a finished paragraph at every point. You can rehearse it a bit. Then nobody has to shrug questions off and refer to the boss in every situation, because he is the only one allowed to speak to the media. That doesn’t go down well at functions and when dealing with journalists. As we know from Watzlawick, one can not not communicate. So it sends a bad message. Besides, centralized communications is not really a feasible practice for most projects when handling social media.
Labor practices: This I recommend this to be dealt with openly and honestly, to the largest degree possible. Honesty, openness and relatability are the best things for the credibility of your project in the long run. Then I would try to connect — or decouple my own work — with the issues in a differentiated way, depending on which way you’re going. The important thing here is not just to assert, but to show.
Impact? Obviously this is the big issue with communications in development. Well, let me put it this way. Part of what is wrong about the discussion with the impact of communications in development cooperation is misguided. Impact always increases when I know exactly what I want and start working on pushing exactly this. Many projects don’t dive deep enough to find figure why they communicate. They start with the what and the why is that they want to show their work. However this why is a technical reason on their behalf, not something that reflects why your reader would want to tune in. What does he gain? Which of her problems is solved? This sort of aspect.
In terms of measuring impact, it makes sense to take pictures or video testimonials before/after — just to give one example (by the way, of course you have to take some pictures right at the beginning of your project. If you only think of it in the end, your missed this opportunity to demonstrate the positive development).
What do people want to know about you? That is your angle. So start by noting down what people want to know about you and answer them in your communication, also for others to see. So I am not talking about fake FAQs that are made up of what you want to communicate. No record what people really ask you. When you then reach out, those people will listen best when you answer their questions.
Here’s a recommendation on this direct responsiveness: Marcus Sheridan, They Ask You Answer.
I can imagine very well taking up your project in a session with students as a case for their studies. This can result in good ideas as well, swarm intelligence :) If you send me more information on your project, I can already give it a thought.
About the procedure, maybe I should drop by and get an impression. In any case, we need a good local staffer to work with.
One more sentence on strategy. I don’t believe in long strategy papers, which are actually more of a plan. Strategy thrives on a few sparkling ideas and then doing it before the powder gets wet.
I hope my response was anything what you’d expected. :)