Protest in Ukraine

Raising Voices in
Closing Spaces

Strategic Communications Planning for Nonpartisan Citizen Election Observer Groups
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Purpose of this Guide

Nonpartisan citizen election observation groups and civil society organizations (CSOs) work hard every day organizing citizens, collecting and analyzing data, and making the case for democratic reforms. In closed environments, they also must push back against infringements by authoritarian power structures. Authoritarians have taken steps to block, muffle, or discredit these groups and their findings. This guide is intended to provide best practices for organizational communication in places of closing political space.

While the guide is mainly focused on election observation groups, the principles of communication are applicable to any number of causes and contexts. CSOs that work on issues other than electoral integrity can use this guide to create impactful communications plans that spur action on the issues they care about. International practitioners can use this guide and the process it lays out to develop effective trainings and provide technical assistance to groups that want to strengthen their communications and outreach.

How to Use this Guide

This guide offers a step-by-step approach to strategic communications planning and programming, starting with defining goals and ending with establishing a division of labor. Each chapter introduces a new concept and component in the strategic communications planning process. The chapters build on each other, and each new chapter relies on the information and work that came before it.

The guide is structured to be used as a workbook or to guide a group planning process. Practical exercises throughout each chapter will allow you and your team to immediately apply the concepts to your own strategic plan. There are hypothetical and real-world examples included in each chapter to illustrate how the concepts and ideas can be used, and case studies at the end to give you a sense of what others are doing and what is possible.