Communication for diaspora engagement

Diaspora engagement is a multi-directional process, in which consistent, high-quality outreach and communication is an essential element. Done well, government communication with the diaspora will build relationships, create community, generate trust, drive collaboration and partnerships and – ultimately – contribute to national development.

At EUDiF, we consider government communication and outreach activities as the different ways to share information, stories and opportunities with the diaspora in order to drive interest in supporting the country of heritage in its development.

This page is based on the “Learning by doing” dossier in which we outline the concept and process of government-diaspora communication and present EUDiF’s experience and lessons from developing communication capacities through assessment, strategy development and accompanied campaigns.

Read on for a précis, or download the publication for the complete reflection.

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Communication is the keystone of trust – that elusive but essential ingredient of diaspora engagement. Without communication, there is neither community building in the diaspora, nor the possibility to build government-diaspora relations. The best communication is regular, consistent, high-quality and two-way.
Charlotte Griffiths, EUDiF Communications Officer
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Communication truths

Based on our research, dialogue with diaspora and government, as well as the communication work in EUDiF actions, we have identified our six “universal truths” applicable to all government communication:

Trust is the core tenet of government-community relations.

Although it can seem abstract and is challenging to measure, investing in trust-building in all interactions with the diaspora is crucial.

Trust is impossible without trustworthy information.

The foundation of communication with the diaspora is providing timely and accurate information. Make sure that websites are up to date and regularly reviewed, and that information at points of contact (e.g. embassies) is high quality.

Face-time counts.

Creating virtual and in-person opportunities for interaction between government staff and the diaspora community leads to inclusive, respectful dialogue and improved public participation in government initiatives.

Working with real people leads to real results.

There is little more powerful in communication than personal connections and endorsement: find, train and work with “champions” who can act as messengers and relays with diaspora communities.

Data trumps assumptions.

Governments need to regularly generate and use data to accurately understand diaspora demographics, interests, issues, preferences and how they perceive the government so as to adapt communication in terms of tone, message, channel, frequency.

Balance and consistency is key.

Government communication needs to strike a balance between providing information, asking for engagement and creating spaces for active listening. Extractive approaches – such as only making contact to ask for something – cause a breakdown in trust.

The process
Set objectives

It is crucial to have objectives that are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound.

Identify, understand and segment the target audience

Demographic, geographic, psychographic and behavioural attributes help segment the audience so you can customise communication and engagement methods. Gather such information through multiple channels, such as during events, informal exchanges, or as part of surveys.

Determine messages

Be factual, transparent and trustworthy. Tailor messages according to your audience segments – don’t forget that in terms of generations there can be differences in age and diaspora-generation. Use value-based messaging, and relate big ideas to everyday life.

Select channels and methods

Choose how to communicate based on your institutional standards and the most suitable channels for the segment of the diaspora you are targeting. Invest in staff and empower them to meet and engage the diaspora across channels (in person and digitally).


Create a consistent visual identity to tie multi-platform messaging together. Keep an eye on your budget, and mobilise your network to amplify your communications.

Monitor & evaluate; improve & upskill

During and at the end of a campaign, reflect on how you are progressing and what you have learned: Are you reaching your intended audience? How are they responding? Ask for opinions, find out what works for different segments. If you are running an ongoing communication campaign, run an annual review then organise training and develop resources based on the results.

Did you know?
  • Bringing together a mixed project team to design a campaign means you benefit from different experiences and specialisations.
Did you know?

Before Saint Lucia, EUDiF ran a skills mapping exercise with Madagascar. Malagasy surnames are particularly recognisable, enabling micro-targeting of likely-diasporans. On a larger scale, big data can be used for such identification and segmentation, as well as selecting appropriate channels.

Communication in action

In every action communication is used to to reach the objectives, be that internal communication between institutions and partners, or targeted diaspora outreach.

With Guyana, we reviewed communication foundations for digital service delivery and built skills in communication for talent attraction and place marketing, whilst with Egypt and St Lucia we designed and ran campaigns to engage the diaspora on investment and skills profiling respectively. Each action saw theoretical and practical skills put to use and reinforced the value of strong communication in diaspora engagement.

Top three takeaways:

  • Workshop participants in Guyana discuss the value proposition for attracting talent.

  • In Saint Lucia and at the High Commission in London, participants learned survey techniques and discussed adapting outreach strategies to the SLU diaspora.

  • GAFI collaborated with the Egyptian Professionals Network to understand expatriates interests and challenges in investment.