Methods of Communication

After identifying the goal of the communication strategy and the main issue of concern, the target audience and the key messages, the next step is to identify and rank the most effective methods of communication. To determine the most effective method of communication, identify what the communication strategy aims to achieve, the message to be communicated, and the profile of the target audience. When choosing the communication activities, it is critical to remember that an audience’s perspective may be very different from a coral reef manager’s perspective.

signage

Posted signage is a common tool used to communicate about management activities and regulations. Photo © S. Wear/TNC

Important considerations when deciding on communication methods:

  • Cost-effectiveness of communication method: The overall cost-effectiveness of each potential method must be evaluated. For example, a TV advertisement may reach a large number of people, but could be very expensive (and time-consuming) to produce. In comparison, a radio ad might be less expensive.
  • Method of delivery: Understanding how most people in the target audience receive news and information will help you decide the most appropriate delivery method. If members of the target audience don’t receive a daily newspaper, holding a community meeting or a direct exchange with community leaders should be considered.
  • Level of understanding: The level of understanding that the audience has about coral reef ecosystems will help determine if it is necessary to help the target audience connect the problems they perceive to the underlying drivers that are allowing these problems to persist or grow.

Consider the following criteria to help determine the most appropriate methods of communication:

  • How many people will it reach?
  • What is the overall cost?
  • How does the target audience prefer to receive their information?
  • Who does the target audience listen to and trust?
  • Does the audience consider the person or agency acting as the messenger a trustworthy source of information?
  • Is this method culturally appropriate?
  • How will this communication method be spread, and who will do the work?
  • Is there a local “champion” or “ambassador” (people who are respected and connected to the target audience) who would be effective at communicating this message?

The tabs below provide examples of effective methods of communication for key target audiences and tips for successful implementation. It is important to select a variety of methods that will engage the target audience multiple times and in multiple places, as change cannot be expected as a result of a one-time effort.

Briefing. Photo from blog post courtesy West Coast Governors Alliance on Ocean Health

Briefing. Photo from blog post courtesy West Coast Governors Alliance on Ocean Health

Examples: Governor, Director of Fisheries Agency

Communication objective: Ensure that coral reefs are a management priority

Key methods:

  • Face-to-face meetings
  • Briefings
  • Media relations

Tips:

  • Provide info early
  • Present actions and solutions
  • Recruit community spokespeople
Photo © Sean Marrs/TNC

Photo © Sean Marrs/TNC

Examples: Fisheries cooperative, neighborhood board

Communication objective: Increase understanding and/or involvement in behavior change

Key methods:

  • Meetings
  • TV/radio shows
  • Newsletters
  • Skits or plays

Tips: Choose culturally-appropriate methods

Photo © Sean Marrs/TNC

Photo © Sean Marrs/TNC

Examples: Dive shop operators, surfers or tourists

Communication objective:

Increase understanding or involvement in behavior change

Key methods:

  • Radio/TV/Newspaper
  • Internet
  • Social Media
  • Posters
  • Meetings

Tips:

  • Decide on the most cost-effective way to reach a large number of people
  • Use trade or affinity associations
Photo © Sean Marrs/TNC

Photo © Sean Marrs/TNC

Communication Objective:

Increase knowledge of threats to reefs

Key methods:

  • Journalist workshop
  • Press releases
  • Conferences
  • Trips/site visits

Tips: Use success stories to inspire positive change

Photo © S. Wear/TNC

Photo © S. Wear/TNC

Communication objective:

Share knowledge, identify information gaps, coordinate response and communication efforts

Key methods:

  • Telephone
  • Email
  • Websites
  • Presentations

Tips:

  • Mutual exchange of information
  • Use the same overall messages – seek consistency

Communication_methods-bigmammaOther types of communication methods to consider include:

  • Outdoor Advertising: sculptures/signs in public places, billboards (roadside, on buses, bus stops, at the airport)
  • Points of purchase (at the shop counter, on shopping baskets)
  • Posters, flyers, brochures or fact sheets
  • Competitions and awards
  • Creative products and events
  • Presentations at a local school or church
  • Grants
  • Workshops and Trainings
  • Educational materials (for teachers and students)
  • Interactive games
  • Media such as magazines, newspapers, flyers, radio advertising

Below are several sample slide presentations on Reef Resilience that can be tailored to specific needs of a location or audience type by replacing photos and details to make them locally relevant:

Communicating Resilience—An annotated presentation (pdf, 2M)

Generic Resilience Introduction—Presentation that introduces resilience-based management, in a PowerPoint file (ppt, 1.7M)

Example Resilience Introduction—Sample annotated “Introduction to Resilience” presentation (pdf, 1.2M)

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Last updated May 1, 2017

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