3.4. Public communication campaigns

To ensure their relevance and impact, the messages and channels used in public communication campaigns about government policies need to be tailored for different target populations (OECD, 2021). Such targeted communication campaigns can help ensure that people in all segments of the population are informed and engaged and feel heard by their government. Such campaigns can be targeted based on demographics, including young people, the elderly, women, LGBTQI collectives or other under-represented groups. Targeting can also be based on the values different groups have, for example with regard to specific topics. Countries also need to systematically evaluate the impact of their public communication campaigns and strategies, including both their intended and unintended consequences, to determine how well they met their objectives. This can then pave the way for improving future campaigns.

In Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), conveying core policy messages to specific demographics does not yet appear to be a widespread practice among centres of government (CoGs). Out of the nine surveyed countries, only Costa Rica, Honduras and Peru reported targeting public communication campaigns at specific populations. All three of these countries target women, ethnic minorities and the LGBTQI community, while Costa Rica and Honduras also have campaigns aimed at the elderly, migrants and people with disabilities. Costa Rica, which addresses every group in the survey, is the sole country targeting young people (Figure 3.8). The limited use of such tailored campaigns in the LAC region underscores the potential to make more use of tailored communication approaches to increase the effectiveness of policies and the engagement of different citizens in the development and implementation of such policies.

The evaluation of communication campaigns provides governments with tangible evidence of the campaign's impact on citizens and can enable the continuous improvement of such campaigns. It can also help demonstrate how much communication campaigns have contributed to the achievement of government priorities and their return on investment. Among the nine surveyed LAC countries, five (56%) evaluate the impact of their communication campaigns. All of these countries assess the number of people reached by the campaign. Brazil, El Salvador and Paraguay also measure the level of awareness reached and changes in the uptake of public services. Brazil uses the greatest number of criteria to evaluate communication campaigns; it also measures behavioural changes in the population and possible reasons why the communication activities might not have achieved all their goals. There is potential for improvement in the region, through the adoption of more advanced and varied criteria to assess communication campaigns that go beyond output indicators and by integrating social listening as a key component of evaluation. So far, no LAC country assesses whether communication campaigns had an effect on stakeholders’ involvement in a particular policy or reform, and nor do any of them assess whether campaigns had any unintended effects (Figure 3.9).

Data are from the OECD-IDB Centres of Government Survey 2022, conducted during May-July 2022 in nine LAC countries. Respondents were senior officials who provide direct support and advice to heads of government and the council of ministers or cabinet.

A communication campaign is a planned series of communication activities relating to a specific policy through one or multiple channels, such as social media, broadcast media or events, over a defined period of time.

Further reading

Shostak, R. et al. (2023), The Center of Government, Revisited: A Decade of Global Reforms, Inter-American Development Bank, https://doi.org/10.18235/0004994.

OECD (2021), OECD Report on Public Communication: The Global Context and the Way Forward, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/22f8031c-en.

Figure 3.8. Data are not available for Argentina, Colombia and Guatemala.

Figure 3.9. Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Honduras are not included since they do not evaluate the impact of their communication campaigns. Data are not available for Guatemala.

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