Thursday, August 31, 2006

An invitation

Dear public relations industry.

The first World Congress on Communication for Development is seeking practitioners who can deliver communication which . . .

  • Is, first and foremost, about people and the process needed to facilitate their sharing of knowledge and perceptions in order to effect positive developmental change - media and technology are tools to this end, but not ends in themselves.

  • Is based on dialogue, which is necessary to promote stakeholders' participation. Such participation is needed in order to understand stakeholder perceptions, perspectives, values, attitudes and practices so they can be incorporated into the design and implementation of development initiatives.

  • Follows the two-way, horizontal model and not the traditional one-way, vertical model of Sender-Message-Channel-Receiver and increasingly makes use of emerging many to many forms of communication made possible through new technologies. Even when used along more unidirectional models (e.g., campaigns), communication needs to facilitate the understanding and taking into account of people's perceptions, priorities and knowledge.

  • Gives voice to those most affected by the development issue(s) at stake, allowing them to participate directly in defining and implementing solutions and identifying development directions.

  • Recognizes that reality is largely socially constructed. The implications are that there can be different realities (or different perceptions of the same reality) for the same situation according to specific groups' perceptions and needs. Thus the role of development and by extension communication is not to "impose" the correct reality, but rather to foster dialogue to facilitate mutual understanding among different perspectives. Communication for development therefore, respects and works with the different social, religious and cultural foundations of the people, communities and nations engaged in development processes.

  • Is contextual. There is no universal formula capable of addressing all situations and therefore it should be applied according to the cultural, social and economic context.

  • Uses a number of tools, techniques, media and methods to facilitate mutual understanding, define and bridge differences of perceptions, and take action towards change, according to the particular needs of the development initiative. These tools and techniques should be used in an integrated way and are most effective when used at the beginning of development initiatives.
World Congress on Communication for Development

The gravy train is listed here.

See y'all in Rome.