How strategic communications can impact social change

  • How strategic communications can impact social change

By Amadou Doumbia, Account Manager, CRED Communications Ltd

This past 5 May saw me hosting my first event for the Hong Kong PR Network (HKPRN).  The network was founded in 2008 to bring together junior and mid-career communication professionals, looking to network and learn from industry experts. I joined the leadership team due to my passion for the PR industry as well as organising events.  With the support of the network, the May event explored the theme “Communication & Reform – The Evolving Role of Communications Strategy in Social Change”.

My goal was to address how important strategically planned communications were to gaining public support, as well as how communications professionals could adopt the latest industry practices to their careers. Overall, it was a great, engaging and thought-provoking event.

The evening’s panel included:

  • Joshua Wong, social activist and Time Magazine Person of the Year
  • Tom Sims, Asia Business Editor of The New York Times
  • Ashley Hegland, Regional Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Edelman PR
  • Tony Verb, Marketer, Producer and Documentarian

The main question from the discussion was whether strategic communications could aid social change. Everyone on the panel agreed it was possible. But more importantly, they all stressed that digital was key to spreading a message. The panel told the packed audience to remember one rule in any tactic – keep the message simple. When it’s simple, it’s easy for everyone to understand your purpose. When it’s simple, it’s easy to tailor the message later for different groups. When it’s simple, you create a call to action everyone can remember.

For the communication professionals who attended, the event left them with several important takeaways:

  1. Know your audience – If you want a specific group’s support, know how to properly use the communication channels they frequent
  2. Be clear, be simple – Make sure your message is relatable and easy to understand to everyone
  3. Have a purpose and stick to it – As your key strategy, your purpose should define all of your communication efforts. People might forget a product, but will always remember a purpose
  4. Master social media – Social and new media are now just as important as traditional channels. Know what’s available, and master how to apply them

It was a great honour to organise the May event for HKPRN. With over 100 professionals in attendance. As an Account Manager for CRED Communications, the network offers me the chance to not only stay on top of new industry practices, but also ensure they’re effectively applied to our client’s campaigns.

To learn more about my work with The Hong Kong PR Network, please contact: amadou@credcommunications.com

Quotes from speakers:

Tom Sims: “The world is now digital. You cannot expect to gain public support, especially with rapid turnaround, without using digital. But what’s more important is how you use digital. It isn’t enough to just spread a message and expect an audience to appear.”

Tony Verb: “Relevance should always be a concern in communication efforts. If you’re trying to share a message across the world, you need to make sure the message is just as relevant for someone in Hong Kong as it for someone in the US.”

Joshua Wong: “Without Facebook there would be no Occupy Central, without Facebook there would be no Joshua Wong. It really was that simple. We set up hash tags and encouraged people to share images such as themselves wearing black t-shirts or carrying yellow umbrellas. Within just a week we had 30,000+ followers on Instagram.”

Ashley Hegland: “Having a clearly defined and passionately communicated purpose to what you do is key component to consumers today. They want to know where your ingredients come from; how sustainable is the packaging of your product; does your company support fare wages for all workers. These factors make today’s businesses stand out.”

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