Identify what the community wants and needs
Building a community is not just about getting people's attention. If you want to build a real sense of community, you need to know what problems they are facing and how to help them solve it. You can do this by using social listening to discover their pain points. Dove is a brand that has done this very well. They have listened to their consumers and created several marketing campaigns to address issues that they face. Dove has launched several campaigns to help women build body confidence and self-esteem. This has helped them to build an emotional connection with their community of women over the years.
Anyone who gets involved in public health and development issues can make a difference. But, because the people who live in one community can have many different opinions and preferences, you can't reach everyone with just one message. You will need to narrow your audience and decide whom you want to target. Whom do you want to reach? The general public? Policy makers? People who are undecided about your issues? People who don't know about your issues? People who are affected? Different populations respond to different kinds of messages – sometimes in subtle ways.
Create a media strategy that meets the community's needs
The role of the media here is to both generate and reflect public opinion on the issue that will then influence policy makers to act appropriately. Government bodies, corporations, and other large entities are subject to inertia (the tendency of a body at rest to remain at rest--i.e. for things to stay the same.) They often need the push of a media campaign that tells them public opinion demands some action before they’ll move. Such a campaign can set (or reset) the political agenda in your favor.
The media can help not only with stories. You might want to start a letter-to-the-editor campaign to draw attention to a particular aspect of your work, to pending legislation, or to the plight of your participants. You may be able to arrange with the local paper to publish a letter a day (written by participants, for the most part) for a certain period. That may be accompanied by a series of interviews on local TV, or by investigative reporting.
By Roger K. Olsson