Cases in Places

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Internal Communications for Large Coalitions

  • Advocacy
  • Strategy

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Large coalitions live or die through communications. Internal communications can be fixed easily.  It shouldn’t be a source of discord for any coalition.

Internal communication is overlooked, but it is important for coalitions with sizable memberships that cannot easily be coordinated without a system, basic tools, and at least one designated person. Internal communication prevents conflict, stops the leadership from being overwhelmed by individual calls or emails and makes the coalition more efficient, and allows the coalition to respond quickly.  For example, Kenya peace groups working on conflict mitigation during the 2017 elections created and used WhatsApp groups to report events on the ground and to take action in real-time.

Large coalitions have different levels of communication and ways to reach each of them.  This is an easy way to structure this:

  • Decision-making groups: There are usually 5-12 people on a leadership committee on behalf of the coalition. They need to coordinate among themselves and must engage in discussions, and communicate their decisions to all coalition members. This is often done through emails or group communications on closed social message platforms.
  • The member organizations: They are the recipients of communications from the decision-making groups and must also communicate with their members. Local civic groups in Albania wanted real-time updates on breaking news about the election administration and voting day changes. This was done through large regional meetings led by the leadership groups.
  • Coalition members where there is an overlap or need for coordination: These can include formal or informal task forces or committees.  When NE Nigerian health service providers were worried about the service overlap at the displaced person camps, they created a committee to communicate their activities and respond to the changing needs on the ground.
  • Members of the groups: Members are reached through their organizations on social media, newsletters, and internal communication mechanisms.  Much of this content can be recycled and reused among organizations to encourage consistency and save time.
  • The public, including media, beneficiaries, and impacted audiences: Not all internal communications need to be shared externally.  However, it is a good source for those working on external communications to re-purpose policies, stories, and news that influence external audiences.

The Responsibilities of an Internal Communicator for a Coalition

Assigning someone to work for the coalition from existing staff or as a volunteer. This provides an exciting opportunity to learn new skills.  The larger the coalition, the more likely this person will need to work full-time.  Their job description includes:

  • Serve as a focal point to collect news, stories, and data through reports, calls, meetings, and social media. This person attends key meetings and reports about emerging narratives and potential future stories. They need to understand the two buckets: important news to implementers and news interesting to external audiences like beneficiaries or the media.
  • Package internal information for distribution through stakeholder newsletters, closed group social media feeds, group calls, or meetings to improve coordination and communication across the platform.
  • Supports closed message groups that are created for specific conversations among implementers.
  • Supports coalition members with content to communicate with their membership, beneficiaries, or audiences through their social networks.
  • Provides information to the external communications department for re-packaging internal information for circulation on the website and social media. For example, they provide information on partner efforts, contacts, and data for stories.
  • Post documents and coverage in an online library or location like Google Docs for use by all participants.