Toolkit > How to run a campaign > General Principles > Migrants as protagonists


For an efficient, authentic campaign to talk about migration while avoiding the risk of falling into the trap of empty rhetoric, it must involve the main protagonists, the migrants themselves. Paola Parmiggiani reminds us that campaigns that fail to focus on “the auto representation [of migrants] but instead focus on the idea we have of them, end up repeating a stereotyped and detrimental image of cultural diversity (Adichie 2009), to promote a certain “tolerance” towards migrants [instead of a real understanding]”. It is thus fundamental “to give the Other the possibility to auto-represent herself/himself”, which symbolically means to acknowledge her/him as a person, as a bearer of rights (and duties) and as a potential actor of positive change in the society, as a social development actor.” She goes on to say, “turning the migrant from object, of our compassion, of collective fear, of discrimination, of tolerance, of integration, into an active subject, social communication offers an alternative message to the emergency, pietistic and securitarian frame, to the giving culture (nourished by the do-gooder mentality of the philanthropic gesture) and to the legality culture (nourished by suspicion, fear, control and negation of the other).” (Parmeggiani 2015, p. 8)

From theory to practice

This grass-root involvement can be facilitated through various activities including focus groups, workshops, calls for ideas, and online participation through social media.

Implement inclusive language policies

Language barriers can be one of the first obstacles stopping migrants from getting involved in local initiatives. There are several ways to overcome this. Translate your communications into the most common languages spoken by migrants in your local area, collaborate with linguistic mediators, offer migrants the chance to speak their own language during the activity you have planned, choose non-verbal ways of expression (photography, drawing, video, …).

Define your target precisely and design ad-hoc inclusive activities

Do not make the same mistake as those you want to fight! “Migrants” are not a unique, big, homogeneous whole. Who do you particularly want to involve? Take the time to define your target(s) carefully by considering some of the following: country/region of origin, gender, age, profession, education level, passions and interests, migration pathway, length of stay in the host country. The next step will be to create a safe space and to think of an ad-hoc activity while taking into account your target group’s characteristics in order to encourage broad participation. For example, you may want to design single-sex sessions in order to include women and to allow them to express themselves freely, without any self-censorship. Defining the target should be something you consider constantly throughout the development of your campaign, from the grassroots involvement right up until the point where you choose the final target of your communication products.

The manual WE CAN! provides some useful indications to identify your targets and to define your communication accordingly, including checklists and tools such as printable templates to define your audience and the related media.

Informed consent

Informed consent of campaign participants must be obtained before collecting any data, including personal information, videos, photographs and audio recordings of interviews or discussions. Informed consent means people are given clear information about the project, who the person collecting the data is, and where and how their data will be stored, used and shared. The European framework of reference is the GDPR data protection Law

Communication of Local AuthoRities for INtegration in European Towns


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This project was funded by the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.
The content of this document represents the views of the author only and is his/her sole responsibility.
The European Commission does not accept any responsibility for use that may be made of the information it contains.