How can you address an issue if you don’t understand what’s really going on? That’s the question at the heart of research carried out by RNTC colleague Hannah Richter into effective ways of countering extremism and radicalisation. Her report is part of the international ‘Game Changer -Radical Awareness Game Engagement’ project which aims to promote tolerance and understanding among Europe’s young people.
The European Union funded Game Changer project is spearheaded by Techsoup Europe, a leader in delivering technology and solutions to support civil society organisations. It utilises innovative technology and cross-sectoral, cutting-edge research to empower NGOs and youth leaders (known as Ambassadors of Change) to respond to the growing trend of radical and/or extreme behaviour in young people throughout Europe. Trainings will strengthen the capacity of Ambassadors of Change in how to lead their own social media campaigns and of NGOs in how to provide support and guidance throughout this process.
State of the art analysis
RNW Media’s training centre RNTC is one of the NGOs partnering in the initiative and working with young people, technology and field experts, media specialists and youth activists based primarily in France, Greece and Poland. Hannah Richter’s report ‘State of the Art Analysis’ looks at the current state of thinking on radicalisation throughout the world and identifies over 100 different campaigns which aimed to address the issues around extremism and offer alternative narratives. It also identifies training resources and articles.
As part of the research, RNTC organised three round table discussions in Brussels, London and The Hague, with experts in the field of counter radicalisation. Among the best practices identified were the vital need to train journalists and editors on reporting terrorist attacks to ensure media takes a victim-centred approach rather than focusing on the perpetrator. The experts also stressed the importance of working together with local communities and partnering with organisations already active in the field rather than starting new initiatives from scratch.
Building a great campaign
The report aims to distil relevant knowledge useful for training development and campaigning and to support and further educate those looking to help create change. It concludes with a number of recommendations of the necessary components for building successful, effective and impactful campaigns both online and offline. The research showed that defining and understanding a clear target audience is vital, so this element should always be the starting point when building a campaign. Leading on from this is the need to understand who influences the target audience as using influencers and role models will help strengthen a campaign and reach the desired audience. This is followed by defining a clear aim as campaigns with multiple aims are not as effective.
When things go wrong
The report also highlights the importance of understanding the radical narratives of the group being targeted and creating a positive alternative narrative. The next step is to establish clear goals and actions, and break up a campaign into measurable and actionable chunks to ensure it can be implemented effectively. A team must also look at what the risks are before launching a campaign; thinking in advance about what could go wrong and how it might be fixed is essential. For example, there could be the risk of bots and trolls attacking a campaign, or the risk of the media amplifying radicalisation and endangering the goals you set for your campaign.
Clear calls to action are another essential element – these aim to create behavioural change, which is the central focus of every successful campaign. Calls to action should drive engagement both on and offline, as campaigns that are only designed to increase knowledge and/or awareness may not be as successful. Creating an online campaign that has an offline call to action is effective. The final element of an impactful campaign is careful and meaningful measurement in both the short and the long term. Measurement must come with a baseline and with an understanding of what is being measured from the get-go and what success looks like.
Click below to download a summary or the full State of the Art Analysis report.