Changing the Narrative

Achieving the desired outcome for your campaign or cause will usually require winning over hearts and minds. This involves changing the narrative and reframing how people perceive your campaign issue.

Digital storytelling lets us amplify our voices, reach more people and make human connections. This in turn can shape public thought on your campaign and influence relevant stakeholders. Digital and social media can be used to identify, collect and curate stories as part of your digital storytelling strategy.

Stories not only empower the storyteller but can also inspire others to share their story. The cumulative effect of these stories, from different messengers to different audiences, will help change the narrative and win hearts and minds.

Example: Ana Liffey Drug Project and Humans of Dublin – #SaferFromHarm

The #SaferFromHarm campaign aimed to raise awareness of the importance of introducing Supervised Injecting Facilities (SIFs) in Ireland, to reduce the harm from injecting drug use. Medically supervised injecting centres are places where intravenous drug users can go to inject in a setting with a health professional. There are currently over 90 such centres around the world. Much of the narrative around introducing SIFs was focused heavily on policies, procedures, and examining SIFs’ effectiveness internationally. #SaferFromHarm set out to change the narrative by putting a human face on the issue, telling the stories of people who would benefit from introducing SIFs into Irish society.

The idea was that connecting with the issue on an emotional level would address some of the concerns that still remained.

To achieve this, the Ana Liffey Drug Project, which had been campaigning for the introduction of SIFs for years, teamed up with Humans of Dublin, whose goal is “to make people more attentive to what is happening to other humans around them and, if possible, make a positive change in their lives.”

The campaign shared the stories of seven people who have been affected by drug use, including Brigid, who lost her daughter to addiction 12 years ago, and Aidan, who was living with an active addiction. One thing they all had in common is that they believed introducing SIFs would ensure that drug users were #SaferFromHarm. As the campaign was being rolled out, a person who had seen these stories and had a similar experience got in touch and asked if she could tell her story as part of the campaign. Others shared their own stories on social media, often using the campaign hashtag. The storytelling approach proved instrumental in achieving the objective of changing the narrative and reaching as many people as possible with key messages highlighting the importance of introducing SIFs.

Weeks after the campaign, when the issue was up for discussion in Parliament, stakeholders tweeted updates from the meeting using #SaferFromHarm. The Ana Liffey Drug Project continues to use the campaign hashtag and narrative in its campaigning on the issue. The first Supervised Injecting Facility is due to open in Dublin in 2018.