Climate Media Labs hold special session to help participants reach out to younger Filipinos
A climate media fellowship held a special session to help advocates build and launch awareness campaigns that will reach out and appeal to younger Filipinos.
On its eighth and final session scheduled in late September, the Climate Media Labs organized a webinar entitled “Developing Campaigns for Young Audiences.”
The webinar was designed to assist participants in formulating climate awareness campaigns that will engage and resonate with the youth, said the Oscar M. Lopez Center, which organized the Labs under its Balangay Media Project.
In his presentation that opened the session, Val Amiel Vestil, executive director of the Association of Young Environmental Journalists (AYEJ), said that “climate change and its technicalities are not relatable to younger audiences.”
“[The key is to find] the topics that they can relate to and once you’ve found a relatable topic or a relatable theme, you can insert your key messages,” he added.
During a 2017 speaking engagement, Vestil recounted that he used Camp Sawi, a teen romance movie, to spread the message about climate change.
“We talked about our personal heartbreaks and that worked with audiences who, at that point, did not so much understand COP26 [Conference of Parties] or carbon emissions,” said Vestil, who is also an instructor at the Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan in Cagayan de Oro City in Mindanao.
Besides Vestil, the webinar’s resource persons included Carl Javier, the chief executive officer of PumaPodcast; John Peter Campos, founder of the non-profit Media Commoner; and Jacque Manabat, a multiplatform journalist of ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp.
To increase its engagement, PumaPodcast sends an advanced copy of an episode to a few people, hoping that once they start talking about the episode online, other people might be prompted to follow the channel, Javier said.
“It’s actually seeding it to the right people,” Javier explained. “In the podcast world, it’s always about word of mouth. I can’t claim that we have the capacity to make something trend but that is how we increase our engagement.”
For his part, Media Commoner’s Campos said that their platform relies heavily on visuals to spread its messages.
“They’d rather look at the graph, data, or visualization and it engages them and it’s easier for them to understand,” said Campos. “But when you use data, the data has to have a story. It can’t just be ‘here are the numbers’ because that doesn’t say anything.”
Meanwhile, Manabat created her own TikTok account in June to engage with younger Filipinos.
“TikTok is an entertainment platform and it’s an opportunity for us to make news cool again,” she said. “What I’m doing right now on TikTok is getting their interest and then they may tend to watch the [news] and get to research online news.”
The webinar was also attended by ten teams whose members were all recipients of Umalohokan Fellowships awarded by the OML Center.
Named after the town criers who disseminated news in pre-colonial Philippines, the fellowship entitled recipients to attend the Labs. Fellows will also receive financial support to develop and launch their local climate campaigns based on the pitches their teams submitted as part of fellowship applications.
When the six-week-long Labs opened in late August, eight of the total ten groups received an additional P35,000 per team as part of the Umalohokan Grant that examined their initial campaign pitches.
The seed grant will help teams “conduct a climate communications study on the knowledge, perceptions, values, behavior, and other meaning-making factors to sway public opinion and inspire climate action,” the OML Center said on its website about the project.
Pitches received by the Labs cover underreported climate stories in local communities. These stories include an initiative to amplify the voices of those most vulnerable to climate change, a campaign to raise awareness about the Philippines’ damaged coral reefs, and a project to narrate stories of residents of small island communities.
“While the science on climate change in the Philippines has increased ever since our Center was established in 2012, appropriate action is still lacking,” said Perpi A. Tiongson, the OML Center’s Associate Director. “Communicating climate change and the potential for enabling action remain big challenges. The Climate Media Labs is one of the ways of helping provide context of the risks and impacts of climate change and of enabling action through documenting realities and surfacing stories of local experiences.”
With the Labs’ conclusion, an additional P70,000 will be released to five teams with the best media blitz campaign plans, according to the OML Center.
Another final grant of P150,000 awaits the team that will be able to implement the most creative and successful media blitz, the OMLC said.
“The best way to spread awareness about climate change and its impacts is through the telling of stories,” said Tiongson. “And we in the Center have always believed that stories can make everyone understand the importance of our planet for the next generations.”
The Climate Media Labs, the Umalohokan Fellowships and the Umalohokan Grants are all subsumed under the Balangay Media Project, which seeks to create an ecosystem of journalists, communicators, and advocates to cover underreported climate issues on the ground.