In the framework of the European Year of Youth, a group of YEAs had the chance to attend Level Up! Accelerating change is an event dedicated to the voice of young people across Europe and beyond, standing up for their rights and striving for societies where young people are empowered and encouraged to achieve their fullest potential as global citizens. The following lines are a compilation of the most important aspects learned during the two-day boot camp at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium. But before we turn to the actual notes, I would like to emphasize the importance of communication in an activist’s journey.
When you are trying to be an activist, you want to make sure your voice is heard. And to do that, you have to develop a strong communications strategy and campaign. Technology is now accelerating the rate at which ideas, relationships, and information are shared, and makes it easier to advocate and get actively involved in a cause. Digital tools and social media platforms will help you on your activism journey: all you need is an idea and a good perspective to build your narrative.
Define your target audience
Activist actions do not need to please everyone but need to create support within your target group
High-quality content that achieves the desired results takes time and effort. Defining your target audience is one of the most important aspects of your communications strategy. Who is your cause aimed at? What is the age of your intended audience? Is there a specific location you want to focus on? When planning an action/activity, do not focus on the people who are not interested/convinced by your cause in the first place, it’s a worthless effort as they probably won’t be convinced by it anyway. Put these people aside and focus on actions that will appeal to your public, and to your supporters. Knowing the target audience in detail will lead to a profitable investment of energy, which will guarantee the fulfilment of the objectives that a cause has set for itself. Once you know who you are targeting, it is much easier to figure out which media channel or social network you can use to reach them, and which message will resonate with them.
Establishing key messages & images
‘A picture is worth a thousand words’
Defining your messages is an essential part of the communication plan. Try to formulate the arguments starting from the objectives you have set, always referring to the target audience. Establish a communication style that represents you. As you proceed, you will have to decide which images best reflect the message. It is important to use images with which members of the public can identify emotionally and that have a strong visual impact.
Identify the media channels and tools relevant to your cause
Social media’s power to mobilise people into action is undeniable
Social media can serve as a communication tool for social justice, help generate awareness, build communities, unite ideas, and share narratives. Make sure to choose the tools and channels that match your goals and target audience. These will help you deliver your messages effectively. A great way to identify the relevant social platform is to look at your established target audience. For instance, Facebook is by far the most widely used social network today. Instagram’s audience is composed of mostly Millennial or Gen Z users. TikTok is getting more popular among younger generations as well.
A variety of tools can be used for internal and external communication such as emails, newsletters, calls, live streamings, press releases, blog posts, etc. In addition, relevant hashtags can help you broaden the reach of your social media content, and make your content viewable by anyone who has an interest in your activity/cause.
Once you’re all set with your channels and tools, try to think about your concept and work on the editorial plan: when, what, where, and how you’ll communicate.
When you reach this stage, be as creative as possible, and also don’t forget to BE YOU! People love what is genuine, they love seeing you be real, both online and offline. Engage with your audience, and try to make them come together in supporting your cause. When you communicate authentically, you bring your whole self — your thoughts, feelings, and experiences — with you. And most importantly, HAVE FUN advocating for your cause and the changes you believe in.
LevelUp! is a youth event that gathered more than 1,200 local activists and offered space to boost their skills and accelerate the change in their community. It took place from 27-30 October 2022 in the European Parliament, Brussels. Twenty-four Young European Ambassadors took part in the event, including multiple workshops, ranging from communication to volunteer organisation.