8 Strategic Communication Steps for Social Change


We live in an age bursting with communication channels where we are bombarded with messages from the moment we wake up – but how many of them do we really take notice of and how many get through to inspire us to change?

Effective Strategic Communication is about cutting through to those key audiences that you need to motivate to take action to achieve your objectives.

Every change campaign is unique but in my experience across environmental and social issues campaigning, there are some clear steps that can guide the development of a range of social impact trajectories:

Eight Steps To Achieve Social Impact

  1. Clarify your goal
  2. Determine your Theory of Change
  3. Identify the decision makers and what you want them to do
  4. Analyse the power dynamics – who supports or opposes your goal?
  5. Identify key influencers and how to reach them
  6. Understand the motivations of key influencers to support or oppose your goal
  7. Understand your base of supporters, and those who are persuadable to your cause
  8. Craft messages, based on your values, that will persuade your target audience of influencers and decision-makers, that also excite your base and mobilise persuadables to take action.
For example, if you have clarified your goal as getting stronger action to address climate change, or ensuring all Australian children attend two years of preschool, then your next steps are to identify the key decision makers who can realise your goal and get specific about what you need them to do.

In both these cases the decision-maker is the Federal Government, but if you want a long-term shift, you need to target the Opposition as well.

Step 3 – what specifically do you need the Government and Opposition to do?

The School Strike for Climate has 3 clear demands:

  • No new coal, oil and gas projects, including the Adani mine
  • 100% renewable energy generation & exports by 2030
  • Fund a just transition & job creation for all fossil-fuel workers & communities

Campaigns for early childhood education ask the Federal Government and opposition to commit to:

  • Ongoing national funding for all children to participate in preschool programs in the year before they start school, and
  • to extend this funding to apply for two years before school.


Going through the process of planning and completing these steps makes it easier to target the right audiences with effective messages to achieve social change, saving time and money in the long run.

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