Freddy the Fly: A lesson in effective development communications

The organization I work for, the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), recently released the short animated video, ‘Freddy the Fly’, which I helped produce. ‘Freddy the Fly’ tells the story of a community that is mobilized to clean up its act and become open defecation free. But what makes the video so unique is that it is told from the perspective of a fly, who grows increasingly grumpy as the community steadily improves its sanitation and hygiene.

The main audiences for the video are those who need to hear the messages to improve their sanitation and hygiene (communities, school children, and the like) and those who can use the video as a tool to promote sanitation and hygiene behaviour change (development practitioners, especially those involved in sanitation programmes).

Check out the video below:

Ensuring that sustainable development issues, such as behaviour change and sanitation, resonate with your key audiences can sometimes be challenging. This can be due to the dynamic, multi-layered nature of these issues, as well as the complex and technical concepts linked to them. For example, how should one communicate faecal sludge management to non-sanitation practitioners?

This is where effective communications comes in. After identifying your audiences through communications and content strategies, communications professionals must ensure that they convey messages in the most clear, concise and engaging ways possible, adapted to those audiences. This includes identifying the appropriate tools and channels through which the messages are conveyed.

Though I’m being subjective here, I think ‘Freddy the Fly’ is a strong example of how to effectively communicate international development topics that may seem overly technical or not immediately marketable or exciting. Like pooping in the open! Here’s why:

  • It conveys key messages via a powerful channel: video.
  • It uses effective storytelling to engage audiences.
  • It repackages multi-layered, low-profile (but extremely important) topics – such as behaviour change through Community-Led Total Sanitation, sustainable sanitation and hygiene and open defecation – in an easy to understand, entertaining way.
  • It uses simple but creative visuals and narration (rhyming couplets) to engage audiences of all ages.
  • It tells the story from the perspective of a fly, using the element of novelty to engage audiences.
  • Finally, it’s an effective organizational promotion tool, as it effectively positions the organization addressing the issues presented in the video: WSSCC. The end of the video explains how WSSCC, through its Global Sanitation Fund, is helping end open defecation, with numbers to boot. It also directs audiences to WSSCC’s website, where they can learn more or support the cause.

Voila, the anatomy of an effective communications product. If you’re interested in learning more about WSSCC’s work, or sanitation and hygiene improvement in the context of international development, check out wsscc.org.

5 online engagement ideas for nonprofits

Writing for Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications Blog, Kerri Karvetski offers up some creative ideas that can help nonprofits engage their audiences online.

1. Ask artists to illustrate

As part of a larger hashtag campaign, invite an artist or artists to illustrate your supporter’s thoughts submitted online. Or devise a more focused campaign for illustrators to share original ideas and thoughts through art – like this UNICEF campaign.

2. Make a reading list

Curate your own list relevant for your supporters, while encouraging them to share their own through your social media channels.

3. Story contests

Karvetski suggests launching a six-word story contest for small digital spaces, such as Twitter. Other writing-related contests centred around short stories longer than six words, or poetry, could also spur engagement. UNICEF’s ‘Tiny Stories’ campaign is a great example.

4. Bumper sticker contest

Invite your supporters to submit bumper sticker ideas, then choose the best ones and ask your supporters to vote for their favourites. Supporters can then order their favourite bumper stickers via a small donation.

5. Instagram contest

Invite your supporters to spread the word about your cause through a 30-day Instagram campaign, complete with an engaging hashtag. A theme can be posted and shared each day, and supporters can post original images reflecting that theme, and using the campaign’s hashtag. You could even select winners each week or at the end of the campaign, awarding them with appropriate prizes.

Featured photo: http://klarititemplateshop.com/, Flickr Creative Commons

What’s your wish for refugee and migrant children?

Top illustrators from across the globe — including Christoph Niemann, Jean Jullien and Mrzyk & Moriceau — are answering this question via the #illustrators4children campaign (Twitter).

The campaign was launched by UNICEF ahead of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where world leaders are currently gathered.

UNICEF aims to raise awareness of the refugee and migrant issue, which it says is “first and foremost a children’s crisis.”

Featured image: Screenshot from the #illustrators4children campaign on Instagram. Illustration by Ayumi Takahashi