DIALOGUES WITH DEXIS
Breaking Through the Noise: Strategic Communications in a New Era
On October 5, 2023, panelists and Dexis moderator Andrew Sinclair explored how strategic communication approaches are adapting to today’s deeply contested and decentralized information environment.
The rapid adoption of new communications technologies has transformed how individuals and societies consume and share information. As a result, we are confronted with—and reacting to—the negative impacts of mis-, dis-, and malinformation (MDM), growing polarization, and failing trust in institutions. From this starting point, panelists drew on their experience as advocacy, government, and private sector communicators to discuss the implication of this new information on their work and approaches for navigating it.
Adam Kaplan, a development and social change practitioner, set the stage by describing how this new media and information space has changed the way development communicators interact with their audiences. He stressed the importance of adapting to the new information space by using values-based messaging, rather than focusing on norms of arbitration.
Expanding on Adam’s remarks, Ben Long, an international development highlighted examples from his work in Central and Eastern Europe. In addition to prioritizing audience segmentation, Ben emphasized the importance of understanding the local information environment to build online communities that can complement the work of social change practitioners on the ground. Ben also called for programming to take risks and go beyond traditional international development approaches of supporting independent media actors.
Operating in today’s highly volatile and polarized media environment also means being subject to disinformation attacks. As such, Peter Jančárik, co-founder of Konšpirátori.sk, leveraged insights from both the private and public sectors to share five lessons learned on how civil society can navigate such attacks. According to Peter, groups must focus on building their reputation, knowing their friends and foes, being transparent about their funding, understanding when to use proactive versus reactive messaging, and staying focused on their core mission.
Grounding the discussion, Márta Pardavi, Co-Chair of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, described how she has navigated the polarized and restricted information environment in Hungary. The Hungarian Helsinki Committee researched its target audience to better understand their values and interests; developed more visual, creative content; and adopted positive, hope-based messaging.
The panelists all emphasized important adaptations for navigating today’s rapidly evolving, decentralized, and contested information and media environment. As social change practitioners confront the challenges of MDM, polarization, and eroding trust in institutions, it is essential to adopt messaging that leverages local values and interests, while staying rooted in core strategic communication principles.
This event has concluded.
Thursday, October 5, 2023
10:00 am – 11:15 am EST