The stories we tell shape what people think about LGBTI people and issues. Whether working with LGBTI communities, building alliances, campaigning or advocating for new pieces of legislation; the way we ‘frame’ our work and our messages will significantly affect our impact.
“Our societies are built on stories. These stories - of our past, present and future provide scaffolding for our political system, for our social structures, and for our own thinking. They shape how we understand our relationships, what relationships we value and pursue, how we classify ‘us’ and ‘them’, how we treat others, and our expectations of state and civic duties. That we can deny rights to people based on their country of origin, sexuality, or gender identity, is only possible due to a set of beliefs, or stories, about one group being more deserving than another. By understanding framing—how these stories interact with our thinking - campaigners and activists can craft their communications to create sustainable social change.”
Strengthening our ability to communicate effectively is an important priority in ILGA-Europe’s work. We aim to use the full potential of both traditional and social media. In our work we distinguish key strategic audiences, as they all require unique communication strategies. Yet, it is clear that the usage of traditional and social media needs to be expanded with strategic thinking, planning and clear advocacy objectives. This has proven to be an effective combination towards social change – for ILGA-Europe and for its member organisations on national level.
- ILGA-Europe facilitates various trainings sessions and structured coaching for our member organisations to build skills on e.g. working with the media, social media tools and strategic communication.
- Our Creating Opportunities programme is another vital support for our members. Through this programme, ILGA-Europe support mobilisation and campaigning activities at national level.
- You can watch the recordings of our webinar series on strategic communications here.
- Find here more external resources and tools on strategic communications and campaigning
ILGA-Europe also developed specific work to understand how people in Europe think about LGBTI equality and how to adjust LGBTI organisations’ communication accordingly to increase support and mobilisation. See below more info about the project and the tools developed.
Reframing LGBTI Equality in Europe
In September 2015, ILGA-Europe and PIRC (Public Interest Research Centre) started the project, Reframing LGBTI Equality in Europe. We want to understand how people in Europe think about LGBTI equality and how to adjust LGBTI organisations’ communications accordingly to increase support and mobilisation.
What we did:
Training workshop: We carried out a workshop with activists from across Europe in late 2015 to assess the landscape, get a sense of what was and wasn’t working, and to develop some new tools and ways of talking about our issues.
Framing analysis: We reviewed the key themes of the framing of LGBTI people, through text analysis and talking to practitioners.
Literature review: ILGA-Europe members and staff submitted nearly 200 literature sources (some of which were in fact also large databases), from which we reviewed a spread of data about LGBTI-phobia, and successful campaigning.
Interviews: We reviewed interview material from ILGA-Europe members and staff on the key current challenges for the movement and campaign successes.
Hypothesis development: From this background work, we developed a number of hypotheses for better communication.
Narrative development workshop: We carried out a second workshop with activists from Lithuania, Slovenia and Italy to focus on how we might develop new ways of communicating, using these (and other) hypotheses as guides.
Message testing: We used materials developed during and following this workshop to test some of our hypotheses using some lower-cost and mid-range testing methodologies.
Framing Equality Toolkit and Testing guide: As a result of the two-year collaboration between ILGA-Europe and PIRC we have published two resource materials to support the European LGBTI movement efforts to increase public support for LGBTI equality.
Interested in knowing more about the project? Contact Valeria Santostefano, Senior Programmes & Policy Officer.
Framing Equality Toolkit
This toolkit is a short guide to strategic communications, based on extensive research and building on the experience of activists and communicators from around the globe.
It aims to provide a framework rather than a blueprint; helping you to ask the right questions rather than giving you the right answers. It’s designed to be helpful for anyone who communicates as part of their voluntary or paid work. It’s written with a focus on European LGBTI activists, but we hope it will be useful to others with a similar vision.
When you communicate you usually have a good idea of what you want to say and the change you want to make. But how do you know it’s going to work? That’s where testing comes in. Testing tells you whether your choice of framing (the emphasis you put on particular concepts) is associated with the outcomes you are aiming for.
Testing helps you examine your assumptions about what will work and why. It helps you learn more about the people you communicate with. Quite simply, it makes your campaigns more likely to succeed.
This is a resource to help you test your messages. It is designed for campaigners who have little or no experience with message testing. You can use this guide if you’re working with a research company and want to be able to explain what you need and make sense of what they provide. You can also use it to get more involved in testing messages yourself.