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Mothers for Mother Earth: GAIA Communications Workshop Day-2

After an exciting Day 1 of the GAIA Communications workshop, the group reconvened on 3rd March for Day 2 and was joined by a couple of new colleagues from China and Hong-Kong.

The sessions for the day were offered by Catalyze Communications (Catalyze), a Jakarta based professional strategic communications firm. Cinta and Dimas, facilitators for the day, gave us a background of their work and their organisation and took us through the agenda for the day. The prelude warned us of a long, yet exciting day ahead. So an energiser at the very beginning was perfect to get our energies going! Dimas, with his characteristic animated voice and body language introduced us to the clapping game – one clap at the call of ‘Atamma’, 4 at the shout of ‘ Tabacco’ and 10 at the call of Tabaririri’. After several claps and laughs, we organised ourselves into four working groups to ensure diversity in nationalities and views. All through the morning, we worked on understanding the importance of having a strategy for communications, and the ways to design and execute it. This was followed by a session on mapping the stakeholders or actors.


Image 1: Cinta taking the participants through the agenda for Day 2

Stakeholder interviews for target audience determination

In the next session, we had an opportunity to get into the shoes of our potential audience from the ground. Our local partners, YPBB, had organised a stakeholder meeting in Sukaluyu, a neighbourhood close to the workshop venue. Each group had an opportunity to conduct an informal interview or focus group discussion (FGD) with an actor of their choice. My team, comprising colleagues from Philippines and  Indonesia, interviewed a middle-aged woman, Ibu, who served as a community leader for her Rukun Warga (RW), an administrative unit in Indonesia that typically comprises 100-300 households. The aim of this exercise was to create a persona of the target audience based on the FGD and design a strategy that would specifically help in influencing the group.

Image 2: Focus Group Discussion with Ibu, a community leader in Sukaluyu

Image 3: Participants and stakeholders in Sukaluyu pose for a zero-waste photo-op


From our conversation, we understood that Ibu, a mother of two, was always perturbed by the poor waste management system in her RW and the negative effects on her family. When YPBB proposed to bring SWM interventions to the neighbourhood, she readily embraced the initiative and offered to be a volunteer. The only incentive she needed to enroll was the promise of a clean and a healthy environment for her family and her neighbours in the RW, something that every mother would wish for, according to her. She also took us through the journey of transformation of her neighbourhood and the role of women like her in spearheading this movement in her neighbourhood.

Building a persona

We decided that a strategy that placed women like her at the centre would be critical to scale and strengthen advocacy efforts. We spent the next couple of hours building a persona of a typical middle-aged lady in Indonesia, feminine yet fierce, conservative yet radical, one who puts her family and its well-being ahead of her. From the conversations, we also realised that women like her carry the baton of inter-generational equity. We listed her dreams, interests, skills, domestic and societal roles. By the end of the session, we had almost arrived at an approximate understanding of the demographic group we were looking to target through our advocacy - the Ibu Kuats (Leaders like Ibu) of Indonesia.

Image 4: Persona of a middle-aged Indonesian woman, a potential community champion

Image 5: Persona of an urban youth in Indonesia


The subsequent session was about the importance of ‘messaging’ in communications. As Cinta iterated, the key message of any strategy is typically a bite-sized summation of an organisation or initiative’s intent and what value they bring to their stakeholders. Whether as a name of a movement, initiative, caption or hashtag, a key message is non-negotiable and crucial; it can make or break the strategy. Each group had to identify a key message that would appeal to the demographic group that each of us was targeting. Since my group had decided to focus our efforts on middle-aged women, especially mothers, we chose ‘Mothers for Mother Earth’ as our key message.

Programming and channel for communications

In the final part of the session, we were encouraged to draw up a quarterly plan to support our imaginary project with very specific outputs centred on our main target audience. The idea was to create well-grounded, potential situations to simulate a communications strategy for. We plugged the potential channels we would use to reach the target audience with the programmes we had listed to complete the circle.


Image 6: Key- message, programming, and channels for communications

Feedback and reflections

The importance of iteration is understated. Feedback and reflective ideas often make our work better and finer, adding new perspectives, dimensions and by raising practical concerns and questions. Our last and final session for the day was a round of feedback on our presentations from colleagues representing different groups. Every feedback reflected each colleague’s wisdom from years of knowing and doing things in their own countries and areas of practice. Not only were they practical, but raised very important questions of feasibility and impact which are critical to any intervention that puts humans, their lives and livelihood it at its core.

Image 7: Feedback from colleagues from other groups on our draft strategy


Image 8: Fundamental rules of strategizing communication

Before we called it a day, Sherma connected the dots with a recap of the key discussions from the first day and the role of strategic communications in thwarting the dominant narratives. We ended the day with a Tabiriirrii and some great groupies and conversations over dinner.


Image 9: Happy people at the end of a long day


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