The good folks at the Cyprus Community Media Centre (CCMC) recently completed a particularly busy week, equipping attendees of two key workshops – electronic newsletter creation and online activism – with the training to maximise their outreach and mobilise their stakeholders.
The first workshop focused on introducing participants – a mixture of NGO representatives, Peace it Together project partners and social activists – to the free online platform MailChimp, which allows users to design email newsletters, share them on social networks and track their results.
Attendees were led through a series of exercises to make the most of MailChimp’s wide array of pre-designed and customisable newsletter templates.
Tips and hints to remember in particular were:
- To be meticulous in compiling the newsletter’s list. Far better to have fewer contacts who are genuinely interested in the content than a massive list of folks who are, at best, apathetic about what you’re sharing, or, at worst, likely to resent the intrusion into their already-overloaded inbox
- To make subject lines catchy, so the target reader is more tempted to open the emailed newsletter
- To make content attractive with hyperlinks and lots of bold visuals
- To make content succinct and easily scanable
- To ensure newsletters really contain ‘news’ – and if there isn’t enough newsworthy material to share, to consider delaying sending out the newsletter until there is – or simply adopt a less frequent emailing cycle
After an overview of the range of social media tools available, the second workshop exposed participants to both online and offline strategies for activism, with case studies compiled from the regional players in the Arab Spring, as well as Cyprus.
Among the steps in digital activism outlined by the workshop, were:
- Documenting: digital content creation – text, audio, video
- Mobilising: information sharing with a call to action
- Synthesising: aggregation and combining of content
The workshop stressed that activism was more than simply posting a link on Facebook or Twitter, or ‘liking’ the content of a site, and that the internet was just the starting point for coming together to create change.
Ultimately, focusing on the technologies people were already using was what was rewarded by outreach and mobilisation, rather than utilising tools whose function was unlikely to reach target stakeholders.
“People living in Cyprus are very active online and already use tools of online activism without the methodology of affecting social change,” noted CCMC’s Beran Djemal.
“This workshop helped to convert the tools into strategic action, and helped Cypriot activists better position themselves in the regional context using best practices from other online activism initiatives around the world.”
Attendee Sophia Arnaouti, from Cyprus Islandwide NGO Development Platform (CYINDEP) and Peace Centre agreed. “The workshop really built our capacity even more to be able to campaign in a dynamic way,” she said.
So much to take in, but well worth the effort – thanks CCMC!
That’s all for this time but, as always, stay tuned and we’ll see you in the next post.