This week, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is leading a Global Communications Forum, attracting nearly 90 communication professionals from more than 60 countries.
Representatives from more than 40 countries join their American Red Cross colleagues in Washington, D.C., for the Global Communications Forum organized by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
Photo Credit: Oscar Vispo, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
Professional communicators from Australia to Uganda gather to build a common communication culture for Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the globe as well as identify unique and unified ways to showcase our impact and generate support.
Photo Credit: Michael Oko, American Red Cross
The purpose for the forum is to strengthen the communication culture among Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the globe.
The forum is being hosted by the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C., at which communication experts will build their skills through theoretic concepts, practical exercises and collaborative planning.
"In a world that surprises us daily with a complex mixture of traditional disasters and new challenges, it is essential that the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement speak with a strong, distinctive and clear voice," Encho Gospodinov, director of the International Federation's communications and policy division. "Telling the world what we want to do is not enough; showing the results of our work will bring us the support we need."
Throughout the three-day workshop, the group will address the challenges in today's communication arena, both within the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and the humanitarian arena.
The forum will be launched by a panel discussion on the external marketplace, including Jeremy Barnicle, managing director of marketing and communications for Mercy Corps; Elizabeth Ferris, senior fellow and co-director, the Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement; and Ky Luu, director of the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance for USAID. The panelists will discuss recent trends in disaster response, migration, health prevention and other humanitarian issues to provide participants with a greater understanding of the conditions in which we are working.
"This forum will help deepen our understanding of the humanitarian context and strengthen the collaboration among national societies," said David Meltzer, American Red Cross senior vice president of International Services. "By working together, we can expand awareness of the unique role of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in helping vulnerable communities around the world."
Additionally, on May 1, the forum will host a media panel, including Joy DiBenedetto, founder of HUMNews (formerly with CNN); Maggie Fox, health editor and reporter with Reuters; and Jim Roberts, digital news editor of The New York Times. From the panelists, members from Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies will gain a better understanding of how international news is gathered, how the way people consume the news is changing, and how new media and citizen journalism will impact us in the future.
In addition to panel discussions, the forum will include sessions focused on the new zonal structure of the International Federation, sharing of best practices, practical planning, and working groups to address issues such as: malaria prevention, human influenza pandemic, climate change, and recovery from the December 2004 tsunami.
"This is an extremely important time for us to be holding this event. We are seeing rapidly changing dynamics in the humanitarian field and within the communications and public relations arena," said Patrick McCrummen, acting senior vice president of Communication and Marketing for the American Red Cross. "This forum is a great opportunity to sharpen our communication skills and strategies across the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement."
At the close of the forum, the group will plan for 2009, which will mark the 150 anniversary of the Battle of Solferino – the conflict that moved Henry Dunant to found what has evolved into the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
At the end of the forum, participants will have a better understanding of how to navigate today's communication environment and acquire new skills to benefit their national societies.
You can follow along with the forum through the official Red Cross blog at www.redcross.org/chat.
As part of the world's largest humanitarian network, the American Red Cross alleviates the suffering of victims of war, disaster and other international crises, and works with other Red Cross and Red Crescent societies to improve chronic, life-threatening conditions in developing nations. We reconnect families separated by emergencies and educate the American public about international humanitarian law. This assistance is made possible through the generosity of the American public.