Appealing Cases: Building Communications around Digital Rights Litigation
When engaging in strategic litigation, the story that we tell matters: not only in the way in which it is told in court papers but also in how it is presented to the public. Behind every digital rights court case is a human story and a call for change.
Strategic litigation is a powerful means of advocacy.
It can mobilise communities, change public attitudes, and empower people to exercise and defend their rights. It can influence and put pressure on key decisionmakers who can bring about the change being sought. It can help gather support and resources for the case and the cause. It can enhance engagement across different audiences, including those whose rights are likely to be affected by the outcome of the litigation. It can also assist the general public in understanding what the issue is and the implications of the litigation.
As an instrument for bringing about social and systemic change, the success or failure of a campaign involving strategic litigation can greatly depend on the communications campaign built around it.
Often, the most central question is not whether an organisation wins or loses in court. Instead, the extent to which we can capitalise on the outcome of a case may depend on the communications strategy we employ, how we share information about the case, and how we frame the narrative.
As an instrument for bringing about social and systemic change, the success or failure of a campaign involving strategic litigation can greatly depend on the communications campaign
The media can act as both an ally or an opponent, so it is wise for litigators to acknowledge the role of journalists and work on meaningful and mutually beneficial partnerships with them – not to control the media message, but rather to try to get people to understand when something important is happening.
This means that our message must be shaped to reflect the priorities of the different forms of media we engage with, be that mass or mainstream media, local community media, or specialist media, like those serving particular professional audiences for whom your case may be relevant. We should also be open to new forms of communication, such as social media or art.
Most importantly, the story we tell around strategic cases should centre and uplift the activists, communities and movements leading them. As discussions during our Strategy Meeting in February 2021 have shown, this is often difficult for many lawyers, who tend to communicate their cases by providing a wealth of legal detail and using highly technical jargon.
To support our network in creating more effective communications strategies, from 20 to 22 September 2021, DFF will be holding a three half-day virtual event that seeks to take a deeper look at how we can use different forms of communication as a tool to bolster and complement digital rights litigation.
The event will consist of a mixture of training sessions, delivered by experts in communications, journalism, and art, and workshopping sessions that will give space for participants to build a communications strategy around cases or issues they are working on.
DFF will be holding a three half-day virtual event that seeks to take a deeper look at how we can use different forms of communication as a tool
The event is designed to enhance participants’ understanding of the key components of an effective communications strategy for digital rights litigation and to build a knowledge base by showcasing best practices that are used by communication specialists to engage audiences on human rights and digital issues. It also aims to facilitate the sharing of knowledge, expertise and experience between participants on the challenges and opportunities presented in communicating digital rights work with different audiences.
There will be opportunities for engaging with communications specialists in the context of digital rights litigation. We hope that this will help participants to generate ideas for integrating communications strategies into their ongoing and future work.
If you are interested in joining us for this event, please request an application form by sending an email to email@example.com with “DFF Comms Workshop” in the subject line.
To be considered for the event, you must complete the form and submit it to us by 6 September 2021. We have limited places at the event, so we will prioritise those organisations or individuals actively working on projects that can directly benefit from the event.
If you have any questions about the event or the application process, please feel free to contact us on the address above.
We look forward to welcoming a diverse and enthusiastic group of participants in September!
Judith Rauhoder is a Legal Officer at the Digital Freedom Fund.