On December 14, 2022, AEIDL was invited by the OECD to present the EPIC project at the NETCOM meeting organised around the theme “Strengthening Resilience of Migration Communication in Times of Crises”.
The Network of Migration Communication Managers (NETCOM) brings together communication officers and policy advisors working in OECD member governments, alongside interested stakeholders, to discuss the objectives and challenges of communication in the field of migration and integration. It is a space for NETCOM members and friends to share their experiences and learn more about resources on integration.
In order to foster reflections on how public authorities can better adapt their communication strategies when informing on migration and integration-related issues and policies, Julie de Galard, Junior Communications and Project Officer at AEIDL, facilitated a workshop to share the experience of the EPIC project, as an example of building a communication partnership at local level. This project involves local public authorities and civil society organisations covering eight European Member States, working together in the design, implementation and evaluation of alternative narrative campaigns, each addressing a specific migration-related issue in their territory.
The workshop first highlighted the power of narrative in influencing perceptions and behaviours towards newcomers and therefore the importance of developing communication campaigns to generate positive public attitudes towards migrants, especially when setting up new public integration services. Illustrating her point with examples of EPIC’s local communication campaigns, Julie also emphasised that narratives are context-specific, and, in order to disseminate impactful messages and conduct effective awareness-raising action, they need to be adapted to address a specific misconception circulating in each locality.
In addition, navigating through narratives also means providing tools based on existing good practices in countering hate speech, fake news and prejudice to equip protagonists for this work. This also involves reflecting on the biases, strengths and limitations of each type of stakeholder involved in telling the migration story, to tap the potential of multi-level and multi-stakeholder partnerships and achieve greater outreach.
Delegates enriched the discussion by sharing a national perspective to identify the communication paradigms in which states operate, and thus reflect on how such broader campaigns differ from those at the local level, where integration takes place. This process allowed participants reflect on how they can both benefit from local-level experiences, but also support such actions. This last point opened up a wider debate where workshop participants considered how the EPIC methodology can be mainstreamed, as it offers an innovative solution by encouraging cooperation in order to foster tolerance, respect and social cohesion within hosting societies.