If you have driven or walked around Kalandia and Biet Sahour in Ramallah sometime between October 17 and today, you must have unmistakably noticed giant cyan blue billboards. And if it was a clear day, these would have blended nicely with the sky to let friendly figures and strong text messages pop out.

 

What you have seen is the billboard campaign initiated by NET-MED Youth members in Palestine in order to raise awareness about priority youth issues, touching upon young people’s participation in public policies, their representation in media and youth employment. Ten billboards popped up in ten strategic locations in Gaza and the West Bank. Their messages mainly call passersby to think – each in their own capacity – about the importance of including youth in decision-making, integrating their voices across different media platforms and enhancing their skills so they can be better positioned in the job market.

 

billboards mic

 

But you may ask yourself, why billboards and why these messages?

 

The answer is pretty straightforward. In Palestine, billboards are among the advertising formats with the highest reach – everybody can see them. For this reason, NET-MED Youth members decided to place their messages on billboards located in high traffic areas. One cannot expect everyone to access the internet and be sensitized about the causes one promotes. And if you are trying to reach the public, billboards do a good job at that!

 

The choice for this communication format was obviously not haphazard. The young members of NET-MED Youth in Palestine had gone through a series of discussion sessions, media workshops and trainings within the project in the areas of communications, campaigning and advocacy, so that their awareness-raising campaign and other outreach efforts could be as visible, effective and impactful as possible. For that purpose, the messages on the billboards have gone through a meticulous process of crafting and revision. Only the most prominent messages that could generate a tangible reaction or response from the target audience were selected, using conversational Palestinian Arabic to break the communication wall and engage youth and adults alike.

 

“The billboards reflect the needs and concerns of Palestinian youth,” says Reema Khalil Salem, NET-MED Youth coordinator in Gaza. “They represent a smart way to raise awareness and positively ‘interrupt’ as many people as possible, to engage them so they can advocate for youth issues within their own fields.”

 

billboard group

 

The billboards were officially launched on 17 October 2016. A group of NET-MED Youth members walked around the streets of Kalandia – Ar-Ram and Biet Sahour – Soq Asha3b, and even made it to Bethlehem University. The youth leading the campaign explained and promoted the ideas behind the billboard messages to over 100 passersby and drivers and engaged with them in conversations about the way forward, and how youth can be at the driver’s seat of change.

 

The campaign launch was a success… and a creative one for that! You could see youth from a distance posing and taking their selfie pictures in front of the billboards so that the speech bubbles pointed at their heads. The general public took ownership of the messages, and this was one of the major goals of this initiative.

 

billboard engagement

 

The billboard campaign has proven to be a great communication step, integrating one communication format (billboards) with face-to-face engagement to have a bigger impact and trigger people’s thoughts on how youth can play a key role in moving their communities forward. For an even larger impact, the billboards also complement the radio campaign launched on 29 September 2016 by the same group of NET-MED Youth members in Palestine, and which includes a series of nine 1-hour-long debates between youth and policy-makers on critical issues, in addition to four vox pops and 2 radio spots on reruns. These actions build on past efforts implemented by NET-MED Youth to make young voices heard as clearly and as loudly as possible in public dialogue, including through radio programs produced by and for youth on the occasion of World Radio Day and International Women’s Day, and awareness-raising actions to commemorate World Press Freedom Day, among others.  

 

The billboards will remain in their locations until December 2016, hopefully reaching out to more people and triggering their thought and action to further youth empowerment, engagement and representation.

 

Now, this is where we say #YouthPower!

 

 

To listen to all the radio debates, click here.

In the field

Youth and Media

#YOUTHMEDIA

Activities building skills among youth organizations and young journalists; to enhance youth representation in media and promote freedom of expression, media and information literacy and youth-generated media content.

Youth and Employment

#YOUTHEMPLOYMENT

Activities joining youth organizations, employment experts and different national stakeholders to engage in dialogue and work together on unemployment solutions and skills needs. 

Youth Policies

#YOUTHPOLICIES

Activities empowering youth to participate in the communal and national development, revision and implementation of national youth strategies and public policies.