The media and communications strategy should evolve from the outreach initiated during the initial steps of HDR preparation. The focus of the strategy is to spread awareness of the findings and recommendations of the HDR as widely as possible so as to impart fresh knowledge and promote new forms of behaviour to advance human development (table 1). (See the case of Latvia.)
Tableau 1: Prepare the Media and Communications Strategy
The launch of an excellent report with well-grounded conclusions may generate some coverage in the press the following day, but maintaining interest over the long term requires a sustained effort to engage journalists, as well as the target audience.
The strategy should arise out of the following:
a. Through participatory reviews, identify the compelling data, key findings and main policy messages to be communicated during advocacy and follow-up.
These might include the results of innovative research, surveys, trend analyses, information on composite indices and their components and disaggregated data highlighting development disparities in the country. The promotion of innovative indicators or surprising findings may greatly enhance interest.
b. Tailor the data, findings and messages so that they are easily accessible and can be readily explained to all the distinctive components of the target audience, other stakeholders and partners, and the general public.
Clarity, relevance and accuracy strengthen advocacy.
c. Develop press materials, videos and compact discs.
A press kit should be prepared so that it may be distributed before the report launch (as an advertisement for the launch) and also during the launch. It should present the key messages, data and statistics. It might include some or all of the following: a one-page press release (include the uniform resource locator for the website for the report and contact information for the media focal point or media spokesperson), a summary of the report’s main findings and their relevance to the current development situation in the country or region, several press briefs targeting different audiences or detailing different policy messages, a one- to three-page presentation of major graphic or other visual material (maps, charts, and so on), a list of frequently asked questions and the answers, fact sheets profiling data and findings, a compact data disc, the report, an executive summary, and general information about UNDP.
d. Provide training in public relations and media readiness to the media focal point, if one has been appointed, or to other appropriate spokespeople selected for their media skills to spearhead media contacts and engage with media outlets on substantive development issues.
This should include training in crafting and delivering a message and individual coaching. Even a half-day session can be extremely valuable, especially one that includes the videotaping of a mock interview with the spokesperson and feedback on the result from a media expert.
e. Undertake analysis to identify the policy makers and other stakeholders and members of the target audience who may be engaged to exert significant influence for the sake of policy change.
This stakeholder analysis should reveal the nature and magnitude of the preferences of these actors, the mechanisms by which they may impact the implementation of policy reform, how they may shift the balance in policy choices, whether they may be empowered or disempowered, and the institutional changes that may result. This sort of information is essential if national and regional report teams are to anticipate potential political obstacles to the implementation of new policies and propose compensatory measures, for example, institutional adjustments or subsidies for those who would lose during reform.