CRY Takes a Rights TurnYou’ve been around for years, everyone knows you, respects you, and evenlauds you.For nearly 30 years now, CRY has been working in India to change children’slives for the better, forever.CRY changed its name from ‘Child Relief and You’ to ‘Child Rights and You’ in2006 to reflect their ideology that is concerned with getting children what isrightfully theirs as opposed to a benevolent act of charity.This means that CRY will not work directly for children by runningorphanages, building schools, supporting educational programs etc.Collecting funds, CRY works with NGO’s by funding them, monitoring theirprograms and by helping them use their resources efficiently and effectively.CRY’s approach demands accountability from the state. It will work to ensurethat the state recognizes and fulfills all its duties towards the children ofIndia, as enshrined in our constitution.
So, What’s the ProblemThe key issue - audience was not aware of the process by which CRY achievesthis agenda.In the years preceding the change of name (from ‘Relief’ to ‘Rights’), CRY’s on-ground action, their local development partners and their communication,pointed to a ‘relief’ or a ‘charity’ function.This has led to the audience perceiving CRY to be a charitable organization thatworks for the ‘welfare’ of children.Developing the communication approachAudience research data and interviews with key stakeholders of CRY, and thelocal development partners threw up certain perspectives on the audienceexpectations.Hence, it was clear from the outset that the most important objective of thecommunication will be to achieve a switch in audience perception andbehavior, by educating them about Child Rights and getting them to realizethe need for permanent solutions rather than focusing on short-terminterventions.
The ChallengeSynapse, an Information agency based out of Goa, was brought into thepicture to advise CRY on tackling this challenge.Very quickly, they realized that the biggest challenge lay in not following theconventional route, i.e, communication with pictures of sad, hungryunderprivileged children seeking ‘help’ from the kind hearted donors/volunteers/ supporters.At CRY, the solution lay elsewhere. It lies in the fighting the real inequitieson the ground. Governments over the years have bought in a slew ofmeasures (e.g: mandatory Free and Equal education for children,employment schemes etc), however, the implementation of these schemes atthe grass roots has been a stumbling block.Hence the challenge lay in ‘seeing’ the obvious and fighting to correct thesituation rather than inventing and maintaining a bottomless ‘charity bowl’.
The approachThe ‘Rights’ based approach used by CRY was perceived to be difficult tounderstand and seemingly complicated to the entire audience, who wasalways willing to give (time/money/skills), because they wanted to do good,but was now wondering what does this ‘rights’ based approach mean?Hence the need was to explain the ‘Rights-approach’ in a manner that wasunderstandable to most people and helped them become clearer about whatCRY does and also insulates against any misperception. Give people thefeeling that CRY has visible, real-world impact and their participation ordonation will have tangible results.Keeping in mind CRY’s inclusive nature of operations, Synapse proposed acommunication platform to articulate that ‘CRY works with you to transformthe lives of India’s underprivileged children’.The ‘You’ encompasses all of CRY’s stakeholders – donors, volunteers,program partners, media, bureaucracy etc.
Addressing the challenges through communicationSynapse began by creating a set of communication directives that best manifestCRY’s brand personality.The 3 most important directives laid out were:• Use sensible, sensitive tone that rings true with reason.• Leave behind a feeling of being inclusive.• Language should be simple, set in the ethos of popular Indian society.The directives also outlined strict no –nos• No using social development jargon• No dramatic, exaggerated representation• No use of indigent children in close up unless in an identifiable real lifecontext and unless relevant.Next, information gaps were identified, such as ‘What is Child Rights?’ and‘How does CRY fight for it?’ and specific tools were developed to address them.
The Communication CampaignThe peg for the central campaign to reposition CRY was based on two premises.• One was that in India emotion overrides content and so a way to an Indian’shead is through the heart.• Two was that India lives in its villages (And the villages are mostly where CRYworks)And so was born a simple, scalable, campaign able thought‘Ek Din Aayega…aayega zaroor’.This campaign thought encompasses lasting hope and optimism that is socentral to Indians as well as to CRY’s work. More importantly, this campaignprovided a peg that didn’t use guilt to prod the audience. Rather than presentthe grim, grave reality of ‘what is’, it represents ‘what it can be, with yourhelp’.It also gave CRY the opportunity to reflect its work, case studies and results tothe audience with a great sense of unabashed pride.
The Communication CampaignThe next challenge was to find the media muscle to showcase it. CRY being anNGO, advertising and communication funds are perennially short and justifiablyso, as each rupee spent on communication is a rupee lost for development.It is here that CRY’s goodwill came handy as long-term CRY supporters andmedia houses sprung up to CRY’s aid by offering FOC media or at incredibly lowcosts. Infact, this intervention ensured that the campaign went twice thedistance than it would have gone without the help.The Communication ImpactFrom mid-Feb to mid-April• SMS – approx 100 responses• e-banners on yahoo.com & sify.com as well as on other partner sitesgenerated approx 13000 click throughs to the CRY website.• Visibility across outdoor media in 4 cities (Mum, Blr, Del, Chn) – hoardings,panels at metro stations, cinema slidesThe campaign is by no means over, it has been continuing post April 09 throughour existing communication to the external audience as well as media supportfrom time to time.
Viral video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOO29AdPLisFor more information:CRY SynapseSharmila Subramaniam RavishankarSharmila.firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
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