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Data Storytelling and Using Multimedia to Engage People

May 24, 2013 | by:

data storytelling 1The session on Data storytelling and using multimedia to engage people was moderated by Anna Kuliberda from Techsoup Foundation, who asked the speakers to share some examples of campaigns that they consider successful and give their opinions on what it is that made them succeed.

Perihan Abou-Zaid (Qabilla, Egypt) after giving brief background information on the revolution in Egypt, she mentioned two examples of two very different, but equally successful online campaigns. One  of them took place in Egypt and one in Canada. Both had one thing in common: they paid attention to thoughts, emotions, behaviour and viewpoints of their target audiences and shaped their messages in such manner that they could identify with the campaign and recognize their own interests in supporting it.  In both campaign they used the language of their target audience. For example in the campaign that took place in Egypt, while they were making video animations, they used a specific humor and sarcasm to the Egyptians, in order to make the story more appealing, while at the same time informing the public for the difference between the right and the left wing government and the voting system in the country.

Larry Fergesson (Cyprus Community Media Center, Cyprus)

Larry presented first the challenging working situation with media in Cyprus, where communities exist and function with two completely different media systems, speaking two different languages. In such a deeply divided society, he works on a project for peace and reconciliation through media. The campaign on which they currently work is called What is your story? They try to provide a space where people can come and tell their story, which usually happens at cultural events, where emotions and stories come out by themselves.

Marek Tuszyński (Tactical Tech Collective, Germany)

While talking about the success of campaigns, Marek emphasized that campaigning is actually a long process. In his opinion the most successful campaigns were the ones abolishing the trade of slaves in the UK, and the anti-tobacco campaign. He again reiterated they took a long time, and that the anti-tobacco campaign needed at least 15 years to finally get their message through and convince the public that tobacco causes cancer.

He emphasized two points which are important to take into account while organizing a campaign, and those are to get your message across – that is to connect the dots with the elements, and emphasize why they matter, and the second thing is to be able to present the bigger picture, and why that this is important.

Darko Soković (Dokukino, Serbia)

 He spoke about their experience in making documentary films of people who want to have their story, and he emphasized that there are really stories of people that need to be told. He said that he has been involved in developed a number of campaigns whose aim was engage people. One campaign was the one in regard to the Law on decent work. He said that Serbia says great laws but what they lack is implementation in practice. In this campaign their aim was to engage people who are victims of the transition (people at the age of 45-50 and live in rural areas, and who did not find the adjustment from socialism to capitalism easy). They partnered with 80 local radio stations – promoting the redefining the term of decent work, and change the course of the campaign as result of the gathered data.

In regard to organizing a campaign, he underlined that it is important to interact with people with the language and the format that they are familiar with and that speaks to them.

Darko Brkan, (UG Zasto ne, BiH)

Darko said that on the basis of his experience so far, when organizing a campaign besides the message what matter is also the time when you place that message, regardless of the tools you use to spread the message.

In terms of the message he said what matters is to make people carriers of the message, to produce a message that people can identify themselves with personally. One they identify themselves personally it makes it easier that they also become more personally engaged.


The session ended with answers to the question – how to actually organize a campaign when you do not have a lot of funds. Some of the answers, and the advice which the speakers gave were: make a story that people can understand; know what is the message you would like to convey; know your audience – share your story followed with a call for action. Talk to people before you start talking to them.