Solidarity and Digital Marketing: an Interview with ActionAid Italia

Recognition, relationships, and trust. Tiziana Caglioti, Head of Communications Unit at the NGO, tells us about the digital challenges ActionAid Italia faces today.

 

More than 25 years of hard work for rights, justice and an ethical and sustainable development. ActionAid Italia has a consolidated presence in our country, where up till now they’ve completed more than 25 projects of prevention and emergency support in Italy, and they support more than 200 sponsors in 40 countries in the southern hemisphere. A detailed and complex job that isn’t limited to just brief interventions, but instead supports and favors a lasting and positive change. An impressive mechanism of support is needed, one that sees that the NGO is committed on various fronts and doesn’t overlook the correct use of communications and Public Relations.

We talked about this and many other things with Tiziana Caglioti, Head of Communications Unit at ActionAid Italia. She has been working for ActionAid for 5 years, and for years she has been doing fundraising, and working in direct market, events, face to face meeting, and recently, innovation projects. She started in this sector in 2002 and she hasn’t left since, accumulating experience especially in international organizations like Amnesty International and Greenpeace. She’s passionate about TV series, especially crime and noir. When she isn’t binge watching, she cooks and opens up good bottles of wine. And she always has her smartphone in hand.

Three words to describe ActionAid Italia?

I would say: ambitious for the objectives we propose, courageous for the themes we confront, and stubborn for wanting to see our goals accomplished.

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What are the specific rules that communications must follow in order to be a useful instrument for an NGO?

Communications should never be self-referential – this is the general rule. You don’t communicate to yourself but to others, and so you always need in keep in mind who you’re talking to and for what reason. You need to be able to change the content’s language, tone and words. In our daily work, we are confronted with many representatives: from national and international political decision-makers to journalists, from our supporters to people we don’t know.

This reality isn’t easy, but an effort is needed to constantly adjust, this is the only way our message can reach our readers. Communicating is a complex activity in which content can easily die out and lose its momentum. This is quite true in the digital world, where thousands of content is published every day and consumed very quickly.

You don’t communicate to yourself but to others, and so you always need in keep in mind who you’re talking to and for what reason. You need to be able to change the content’s language, tone and words.

Content needs to be able to draw the reader’s attention from the first words or images. For example, think of Facebook posts and of video autoplays. Time can’t be wasted: we have only a few seconds to capture interest.

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First websites, followed by social media and mobiles, and now new trends are arriving. How has the approach changed according to these different digital revolutions throughout the years?

It’s not always easy to confront continuous change, but there’s no other choice. Otherwise, you lose contact with the public and the people that follow you. One of the greatest changes this years was our website, an instrument that has a significant role in the construction of the image of an organization like ours. The objective was to offer a better experience to the users, and at the same time, enhance our themes and increase the impact of what we do. We needed to convey the complexity of ActionAid’s global work in a simple and interesting way.

We are satisfied of the results obtained up to now, but we don’t want to stop here. We are also working on other fronts, especially on social media. We are curating the content the best we can, and we’re selecting it based on the public on various channels. The speed and versatility of managing are great advantages offered by these instruments. We still have a lot to do, and every day there are new challenges and projects that we want to continue.

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What does communicating and promoting one’s cause mean for ActionAid Italia today? What expectations must you confront?

We’re trying to give the right content to the right public. The analytics instruments give us a precise framework of our interlocutors; our fan base on Facebook has very different characteristics from our face base on Twitter. We manage the communities using a warm, personal tone. You can see that behind our posts there are people, not a detached organized entity.

Our line of work instigates many comments from haters: there are racist comments, sometimes insults, that we don’t acknowledge. Even if many people are skeptical of us, we try to establish a dialogue and an exchange of opinions. We’re open and transparent, and we are fully available to supply information about our work, from how much we spend for donations to the impact we make.

Here, the impact and the stories of change are the things we talk about the most, because bringing up positive examples is the best way to prove the value of help. The change we bring is the result of many people’s generosity. We need to honor this generosity and make visible the impact it can have on the life of a woman, a baby, or an entire community.

Here, the impact and the stories of change are the things we talk about the most, because bringing up positive examples is the best way to prove the value of help.

More than completing our projects, we need to be good at communicating them. We need to share the values in which we believe in and increase the number of our supporters, economic or not.

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In your opinion, what is the new digital scenario that awaits, and what are the challenges that an NGO like yours must face?

Digital is an exceptional dimension: it gets close to people, broadcasts ideas, crates information and shares. All this is destined to grow.

Digital is an exceptional dimension: it gets close to people, broadcasts ideas, crates information and shares. All this is destined to grow.

We need to be able to strengthen our digital relationships – not only those of politicians, journalists, and influencers, but also the public and people in general. We need to learn to be even quicker, and even more capable of confronting the reality and of offering a point of view – an instrument of action to change things.

In this very competitive and crowded panorama, we need to know how to stand out and distinguish ourselves in terms of content and possibility. We need to oversee new territory, and create recognition, relationships and trust.


Tiziano Tassi

Tiziano è uno dei Founder di Caffeina. Ha studiato all'Università di Parma e a Euromed a Marsiglia, per lavorare poi in una Digital Agency e in L'Oréal Italia nel Digital Marketing. E' professore di Internet Marketing e Politiche di Comunicazione presso l'Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore e chiamato come testimone aziendale in corsi di Laurea e Master in diverse Università italiane ed è docente di Digital Marketing in Francia per KEDGE, Audencia Nantes e INSEEC.