Case study: Breakthrough – Ring the Bell

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Share a little about your organisation

Breakthrough is an innovative, international human rights organization, working to transform public attitudes and advance equality, justice, and dignity using the power of popular culture, media, leadership development and community education. Through initiatives in India and the United States, Breakthrough addresses critical global issues including violence against women, sexuality and HIV/AIDS, racial justice, and immigrant rights. We use creative tools like mass-media campaigns, video games, creative art/ performance media like theatre, comic strips, traditional dance forms etc. to bring the issue of human rights home.

Keeping the individual at its core, all Breakthrough campaigns and initiatives aim at bringing a change in individual heart and mind, making every person a change agent and build peace.

We have retained the case-study in first person, as submitted by Breakthrough, using our discretion to edit, compress, add links etc.

Executive Summary

One of the main reasons that make the campaign special is that it has been able to sustain interest amongst the Social Media users even after a year of its launch via TV and Radio. The Bell Bajao blog has become one of the few platforms created by an NGO for user generated content. The online activities carried on by the Bell Bajao team are interactive, responsive and attentive of what others are saying. The campaign does not merely use the online space to showcase its work but sees it as a place to share, connect learn and reach out.

Background

Bell Bajao is actually a 360 degree campaign, covering TV, radio, press, Mobile video vans, with internet as one of the most exciting media.

Domestic violence is one of the most recurring, yet least spoken issues in not just India, but all over the world. A woman is considered a family-breaker if she raises her voice against her husband / in-laws. To run a campaign on such an issue is a challenge in itself.

Because of the unique nature of internet as a medium it is possible to act, share and learn about various sensitive issues very easily without much resource spends. So, we wanted to create this online space for conversations on the issue. Prior to our site, there was no such space in the Indian context where people could talk about domestic violence, where people could share and learn and reach out etc.

Also India is a young country; with many enthusiastic and dedicated young people out there accessing the internet. We wanted to catch their attention and channelize them towards this pertinent cause.

Thirdly, we realized that the radio and TV ads were for a limited period of time, so we needed a space which could keep the campaign alive, so the interactive online space.

Approach/ Strategy

Please share details about the initiative stating clearly the strategy, objectives, goals, the duration, resources and budgets allocated.

Objectives: Initially, our main objective was to create an online space for people to discuss this issue. A huge number of young people facing violence, particularly in their homes and families, have no space in the Indian context to even talk about it, let alone take action. So, we felt that there had to be an online iteration of the Bell Bajao campaign.

Strategy: Breakthrough strategy, in all its campaigns, is to change human hearts and minds to build peace, achieved by using pop culture, community building, unlikely partnerships and shared learning. In the Social Media arm of the Bell Bajao campaign too, we applied the same formula. We created online presence on popular Social Media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Instead of a traditional website, we decided to create a more dynamic user generated site. We continuously partner with popular bloggers to create content. At the same time, we learn from the blogosphere – we keep a keen eye on what youth are writing, understanding what their problems are, how they articulate them and what solutions do they look for. We also integrated our offline activity with the online space, in order to bridge the digital gap. So, we used tools like Twitter to live-blog a training workshop in Lucknow.

Budgets: We never had any resources or budget dedicated to the project to begin with. We are a small non-profit with limited resources, every penny we spend is spent strictly according to the terms of the grant. Yet, we were determined to have a Social Media presence and cover all angles of the 360 degree.

Stakeholders

Which stakeholders did you engage through this initiative and how? How was/ has this initiative been received by them so far?

Our main stakeholders were the youth present on the internet, which are capable of bringing a change in their respective homes and neighborhood. We wanted to appeal to the youth by breaking out of the traditional image of an NGO and use latest cutting edge technology to spread the message.

It was received with great success, people just loved the campaign. Since we were on Social Media, they could directly connect with us via our blog etc. 80 percent of the blog traffic we got in the first 8-10 months came from directly typing ‘bellbajao.org’ or from direct search results with ‘Bell Bajao’ as the key words. They visited the site to leave messages and comments. Many women shared stories of violence sometimes faced by themselves, sometimes by their friends and family. It was important for us to be responsive to the comments and emails otherwise we would have come across as ‘all words and no action.’ So we ensured, and continue to do so, that we reply to all messages, give out all information sought by them and extend all other possible help to our stakeholders.

About the initiative

Share details about your activities, touch-points that you created/ channels you used to reach the stakeholders.

We started with background research and due diligence. We saw a lot of other websites that were operational in this field and we looked at those websites to see how they were handling similar issues. We looked at what was available in the Indian context and went through the process of seeing what we wanted to communicate on our website. We wanted to make the site engaging and youthful.

Then we started creating the content. We had never done any activity in the online space before Bell Bajao website, so everything was a learning process for us. While we created content in-house, we approached a website designer for the design/ development.

The online content was very different from the offline content. For mass media, we created traditional media products like flyers, brochures etc. But on the website, we had a downloadable tool kit, which had information on how net users can become virtual rights advocate (an online version of our training program), hosted contests, polls etc.

Got Milk? (Hindi Version) (Violence Against Women) from Breakthrough on Vimeo.

We don’t believe in forcing all information upon our users, so we try to keep a tab on the Social Media trend and we chip in wherever we can fit. Information can no longer be one way and that is what we keep in mind while creating content or managing content for the site.

Impact – Outcome

What was the impact achieved vis-à-vis goals set? How did you measure the impact/ results?

In Social Media, measuring the impact has always been a challenge. We earlier thought the more hits our google analytics show the higher the success, but then does it really work that way? Blog traffic only show how many people visited the site, it doesn’t reflect how many people took any action!

So, we also measure number of people are using the downloadable tool kits or number of people are spreading the Bell Bajao message in their communities. We received nice emails and testimonials where people said how they have been benefited by the site.

Cesar Robles, Communication Officer of PyD Vietnam, emailed us on how they found the information on the site, particularly the FAQs extremely useful and therefore used them in their campaign against domestic violence in Vietnam.

Learnings

What were the key learnings? Positive and things to do better; share any challenges you might have faced.

One of the key learning is that while your content may be extremely important, it is also equally important to market it smartly. You cannot market a bad product, and though we use commercial terms like ‘product’ and ‘market’, we are actually talking about a cause. It might be easier to sell soap, but when it comes to talking about a sensitive issue or a social cause, your marketing strategy have to be really smart.

Strategic partnership with key players is very important.

One of the challenges we faced was that we didn’t know how to collate all our offline online components, activities, resources out there on the site and yet keep it simple. As a result, our site became a bit cluttered forcing us to redesign it within 8 months of its launch. This time, we started by outlining what the main purpose of the website.

It is one thing to have a website / blog just because Social Media is the in thing or because everybody has one, another to benefit outcomes from it.

It’s is a big learning, to have a very well articulated outcome in your mind behind your initiative.

For instance, one of the first things we wanted from our visitors was to take some action. So we have put things like, ‘Be a virtual rights activist’ ‘download tool’, ‘contests’ right at the front.

Lastly,

we learnt that you cannot get everything right every time and that you are always in the process of learning.

What Next

Where is the programme/ initiative now? Where will it go from here?

Bell Bajao is now a very popular site with fairly good blog traffic but we still have a long way to go. The Bell Bajao campaign itself is going to enter its second phase, with that there will be some changes in the site. We wish to make it even simpler, with even more cutting edge interactive pieces and more action items for visitors.We hope to add language dimensions (blog in kannada,hindi etc)

Reasoning

What in your opinion makes your programme/ initiative/ activity a case-study/ best practice case.

One thing that makes Bell Bajao’s Social Media campaign special is our determination to create an online space even in absence of any dedicated resource in terms of money, time, people and technical knowledge. We just knew what we wanted to do, and we knew we had to do it.

Secondly, it is very unique of the Bell Bajao site and all our other Social Media presence that we don’t use the spaces to only talk about our organization and activity; we never used the site as a static information tool. It is a space to share, learn, communicate, collaborate and act.

Extent of on line presence

We post informative, engaging and stimulating news, links, videos, blogs, articles and photographs pertaining to violence against women on a daily basis for our audience to engage intellectually.

Special features

  1. We have created a digital map, hosted on google, which is an intensive resource map of Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka, Breakthrough’s intervention states. This map lists verified NGOs, government officials, police stations, protection officers and advocates who can provide immediate help to women facing violence. We have also listed cases of the PWDVA Act filed in New Delhi- these are summaries of judgements passed by various courts and can be used as examples and precedents. To this we have added videos, photographs and testimonials from our Rights Advocates highlighting Breakthrough’s work on the the ground.
  2. The Bell Bajao campaign has sustained itself remarkably well online- our blog sees at least two posts a week from users. The blog continues to remain an interactive and dynamic space, with users eager to comment and share their experiences.
  3. We have been successful in collecting voices and views from various men, celebrities and otherwise, for our initiative, ‘Bell Bajao-Champion Voices’ – this was launched with the second phase of the Bell Bajao campaign. The champions are mostly men and boys from various walks of life who are seen as great youth role models capable of inspiring change. These champions reaffirm Breakthrough’s vision that men and boys are the primary partners in ending violence against women.
  4. We have continued our efforts to make visible our work on the ground through the rights reporters programme- an initiative that helps young people from marginalized communities shoot short videos usually in a documentary style. These are then highlighted on our blog and also various video hosting sites like youtube and vimeo. Some examples of their work can be seen on- (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89bek7agcoM) and (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLTOqfBk3F8).

Awards and mentions

Our social media efforts have been recognized worthy of forming case studies- for India Social and Tactical Technology Collective (http://www.tacticaltech.org/- in progress). We have also been honoured as one of the thirty youth icons of South Asia by Kindle Magazine .

Strategy and Execution

Blogworks helped us pro-bono in the background research; there were other friends too who helped with overall strategy. The main campaign Bell Bajao was created pro-bono by Ogilvy & Mather. For the Social Media initiatives, we got pro-bono support from various people. To name some, Rajesh Lalwani of Blogworks helped us pro-bono with research and due diligence prior to the launch of the Bell Bajao website. A list of all the media partners and supporters is here.

Testimonials

Please share testimonials/ recognitions that your initiative may have received.

Here’s a list of all the press coverage we have received. Besides, every other day we receive emails from friends around the world who want to collaborate with us and create a similar campaign in their country. Many bloggers have written about the campaign and linked to our blog. Here are a few of them:

  1. Indsight.org
  2. Anneofcarvesville.com
  3. Indiaoutsideindia-Devayani
  4. Blog.Dawn.com

Factsheet

Name of the company: Breakthrough
Number of Employees: 11 to 50
Category: Not for Profit organization
Case submitted by: Sanjukta Basu, Program Coordinator – Internet and community outreach (Updated by Makepeace)
Website: http://bellbajao.org