Migration communications campaigns are hard to do well, hard to do ethically and hard to evaluate. Our intention in this book has been to distil Seefar’s experience of migration communications campaigns into a method that is effective, serving the needs of both donors and migrants. The 3E Impact method starts by acknowledging that there are rarely simple right answers in irregular migration. National governments are balancing rather than advancing interests. Whichever balance they strike comes with risk. Potential migrants would rather not be considering the choice they are considering. Whichever decision they make comes with risk.
If you are a practising communications expert or a policymaker working in this domain, be prepared for Margot, the public servant we quoted on the wrong track. People will give you false challenges; information campaigns are not going to stop hundreds of thousands of people running away from conflict. But you will never be communicating to ‘stop’ all of these people. That’s not your job. Your job is to choose the most important audiences, channels, content and measures of success for a communications campaign.
When you’re doing that job, think about Elham. She demonstrated that migration is just one option among many that people are considering as a way to advance themselves. Migration decision making is not linear and never ‘final’. On the one hand, that means you have to choose carefully what you define as success. On the other hand, it means that you have lots of opportunities to communicate with the same people, so you can build your message, you do not have to blast it out.
Then you could think about Emmanuel. When we introduced him, he had already been considering his plans for a long time, but he still underestimated the dangers of his journey. Even if you cannot counter the root causes of his interest in irregular migration, you can help him better understand the implications of his decision. But only if you do it well – Emmanuel is smart, proud, and has been thinking about this for a long time. A poster or an advertisement is going to have zero impact on him. Don’t be Zembla.
Instead, remember Hussain, who saw an Australian advertisement meant to deter him and linked that to his interest in joining the Australian Army. Sustaining your communications is the surest way to have a longer-term impact.
In other words, you have a tough job with the potential to do a lot of good. We hope this book has given you a helpful model with which to plan your campaign. We wish you luck, and please get in touch to let us know how it is going.