Friday, 28 June 2013 Author: Will Wright
Just how important is the role of communications in development? You might say, “The action on the ground is what counts”. However, like the proverbial tree falling in a forest, if no one is there to hear it then does it really make a sound? If we do not effectively communicate what is happening on the ground then beneficiaries, donors and others affected by the development project will not understand its objectives. This can undermine efforts to measure the developmental impact of the project and, ultimately, to achieve successful outcomes.
Communications plays a vital role within the AAPF and its activities. In turn, the Facility assists with building and maintaining the Australian Government’s image and reputation in development spheres across Africa and among its key stakeholders. The AAPF delivers all of its communications activities on behalf of the Australian Government.
Communicating is not difficult, but doing so strategically can be challenging. One of the first critical questions to answer is: who is your audience? Invariably in development, there will be various audience members, with different information needs. The Facility’s primary audiences are the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, known as DFAT (particularly Heads of Mission accredited to African countries), partner governments in Africa, Australian and African organisations, and alumni from AAPF programs.
The AAPF uses a range of channels to communicate with its audiences. These include this monthly newsletter, the AAPF website, the Australia-Africa Mining for Development (M4D) website, YouTube, Flickr, DFAT Twitter and Facebook accounts, and the media. The Facility uses these communication tools to enhance the distribution of information, foster public understanding of and engagement with the AAPF and the Australian Government, and effectively reach its target audiences.
The AAPF and other Australian aid programs also use the M4D website to develop networks of Africans who have participated in Australian Government-funded activities. No matter what tool we use, basing our communications on facts and results has been critical for establishing credibility with our target audiences, both in Africa and Australia.
From next month, AAPF communications will begin to evolve. The first change will be this newsletter – this is the last edition of The AAPF Argus. A monthly newsletter about the broader Australian aid program in Africa will take its place. Much of what you have come to expect from The AAPF Argus will remain – the punchy news stories in a two-page layout, as well as links to stories, project and alumni profiles, activity photos, videos and other media online. The main difference will be that you will find out more about the Australian Government’s numerous development initiatives across Africa, not just AAPF activities.
The other stories in this final edition highlight the different roles that communications plays in AAPF activities. As always, we value your feedback and encourage you to remain engaged. Until next time, watch this space.