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Sexy Or Not, Development Matters

Originally posted on the InterAction blog on 4/25/12.

If you’re a communications staff person for a development organization, or part of a group that does advocacy on why development is important, you know all too well how difficult it is to get your program’s message heard. Everyone wants the quick, “sexy” solution to helping the world’s poor. When you try to explain the need for a long-term strategy, or the need to take time and make sure that the project can continue long after the aid agencies have gone, and pretty soon you’re either being criticized for being too inefficient or have lost your audience completely and are left with only chirping crickets for company.

So, what do we do about it? How can we get the information on what matters and why to the people who make the decisions, the people trusted by those decision-makers and the general public? InterMedia has released a study, Building Support for International Development, that will help development organizations get their messages where they’re needed.

The study’s authors did interviews all last year with members of three target groups – decision-makers, influential people in the development community and interested citizens – in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, France and China. Questions included such information as where they get their information, why they think development is important and how they engage in development efforts, among others. (The full list of questions is in the report.)

Based on the responses (which are available in the full report and in reports grouped by country), InterMedia makes several recommendations about how to raise awareness on development issues, make it easy for interested citizens to engage, increase engagement between influentials and decision-makers, and help decision-makers access the information they need.

The most interesting result of the report is an online forum that InterMedia built, where anyone can join and share ideas and reactions to the report. Read the report, check out the forum, and let’s start getting development on people’s radars.

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