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Raising the issue of forced marriage through outreach

Raising awareness around a particularly issue is something we’ve done several times before, and so it was great to get the chance to work on a campaign raising awareness of forced marriage for the Foreign and Commonwealth office recently. Forced marriage is still a reality, particularly within certain communities based in the UK, and the FCO wanted to raise awareness of both the issue, and of the Forced Marriage Unit, a team dedicated to helping those affected by forced marriage.

We developed a range of approaches designed to reach three key audiences:

  • Those directly at risk of forced marriage
  • Friends of those directly at risk of forced marriage
  • Professionals who may be able to spot the signs of forced marriage and therefore be able to help, such as teachers or social workers

Being Consular Directorate’s social media consultancy, we suggested augmenting the PR work planned by mapping and approaching high-profile individuals who had either explicitly expressed an interest in the issue before, or be likely to; for the latter audience we focussed on those interested in feminism and human rights. Once we had identified a list of approximately 40 influencers, this was discussed with the client and with the other agencies to ensure there was no overlap.

Outreach can be really tough, normally when the issue or product is one that simply people do not care enough about, and also when there are not enough good assets to provide people with. Thankfully with forced marriage we had an extremely emotive issue, and the FCO had produced three really compelling videos.

With these videos and other bits of information explaining the extent of the issue, and the role of the Forced Marriage Unit, we began to make contact with influencers on behalf of the FCO. It quickly became clear that the influencers we had selected were the right audience, as they responded positively, thanking us for helping to raise awareness. One of our campaign requests to influencers was the promotion of a hashtag on the day of the campaign launch; the hashtag was #RightToChoose and it was always used in conjunction with a link to the YouTube videos.

The results:

  • Total tweets mentioning “forced marriage”: 389
  • Total tweets with #righttochoose hashtag: 208
  • No. of contributors: 469
  • No. of contributors using hashtag: 140
  • Number of relevant influencers mapped and contacted: 38
  • Number of positive responses: 16
  • Number of negative responses: 0
  • Number of actions (tweets, blog posts, Facebook shares) taken on FMU’s behalf: 14

We were really pleased with the results as forced marriage is not normally a topic of discussion in social media, and for a short period, we made it one.

This post was filed under Current work, Social media. Join the conversation - leave a comment.

One Comment

  1. Gemma

    Although not massively a part of this post, I thought you might like to know that domestic violence as a term has been redefined, as of April 1, and that “Coercion” and “control” are now included as forms of violence and abuse – this, and the new definition, covers honour based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage. Our local council has made clear that this is not limited to one gender or one ethnic group but its interesting to think that this is now a part of our society and the campaign shows there is a social conscience and awareness. Boring post: over.

    Posted 22nd March 2013 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

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