In the framework of the project "Where are you going in youth work?", we have developed a participatory research based on a mixed methodology. As part of the research project, we organised a number of events and professional forums to refine the research problem and objectives.
Are you involved in youth work? is the first research in Hungary focusing on the competences and professional motivation of youth work professionals. The aim of the research is to gain a better understanding of youth work practitioners: what values do they base their professional activities on? What are their values and competences? What do they value in their profession? Do they work as volunteers or for pay?
The questionnaire survey period ran from 20 March to 12 April 2023, and in order to increase reach and visibility, we designed an online campaign in collaboration with most of the youth profession. The process of planning and implementing the online campaign is described below.
The campaign aims to:
The aim of the online campaign "Are you in youth work?" was twofold. On the one hand, we aimed to reach out during the campaign period to people who (also) work with 15-29 year olds in their professional activities, but (also) outside the formal education system, whether they do so for pay or as volunteers, and to encourage them to complete the self-completion online questionnaire. On the other hand, a key objective of the communication campaign was to increase the visibility and recognition of youth work, which is also one of the strategic objectives of GYIÖT. Given that there is currently no single youth profession, the campaign aimed to showcase the activities of professionals in the field. What it means for them to work with and for young people, what values and results they pursue and the partnerships in which they work.
Preparing the campaign
When designing the campaign, an important aspect was to create and present content to a wide audience that would contribute to raising the profile of youth work in society. In addition to GYIÖT's own network, a key element of the campaign was to involve partner organisations and institutions in order to reach a greater proportion of youth professionals.
In preparation, a series of short videos was planned, in which 9 different people were interviewed on video. In order to define the content of the video interviews and the persons to be interviewed, an internal workshop was organised for the staff of GYIÖT. During the workshop, we worked with a mix of offline and online methods and the results were recorded on the Padlet platform. We used the method of person-zoning, typical in the fields of communication and marketing, to identify different circles of professionals, typically according to the aspects that relate to the content and direction of their work. Then, for each field, we selected a professional who was invited to participate in the video interview. In addition to the video content, visual and textual content was produced, with both copywriting and graphic design by GYIÖT specialists. The basic concept behind the creation of the textual content was to create simple, short, easy-to-understand sentences that show the benefits and added value of having well-functioning youth services, programmes and initiatives in a municipality, district or community. We have chosen the slogans "Youth work is a public affair" and "Man is a profession, profession is man" as our main messages. The graphic design was designed to be consistent, so that the colour and style of the campaign elements would be easy to remember and recognise. The textual content was collected and published on our organisation's website: https://gyiot.hu/projektek/ifjusagi-munka-merre-jarsz/
Making the short video series
We planned to use short videos for the same period of the campaign as the data collection. We prepared the professional and content specialisation required for the organisation and filming of the interviews and the editing of the videos, as well as an invitation letter to the interviewees, an information pack and a disclaimer for the use of the video material produced.
The video interviews were contracted out to a company. The selection was made through a restricted competitive tender procedure. We worked with a team from 74nullanulla, who, under the terms of the contract, agreed to arrange the interviews, carry out the filming, editing and post-production of the videos. The team was chosen because of their professional skills and the fact that they were also responsible for running the business as young people. The interviewees were contacted by GYIÖT staff and, following positive feedback and the signing of a consent form, the 74nullanulla crew agreed on a time and location for the shoot. In most cases, the filming took place at the workplace of the invited professionals. The filming team commissioned a precise set of questions for the interviews to ensure that all interviewees answered the same questions. From the unedited footage, the experts from GYIÖT selected the sections to be made into a short video, and also provided the text for the opening and closing shots of the video. The video interviews can be found on GYIÖT's Youtube channel "Are you involved in youth work?": https://www.youtube.com/@gyiot7360
Database construction and integration
Prior to the research, we made conscious use of other events organised by our organisation and our partners to engage and promote. Among these online and offline events, the most prominent was the "How to do it locally?" event in Budapest on 29 November 2022. Youth in Municipalities, which was attended by stakeholders of youth work in municipalities (decision-makers, youth professionals, active young people). The conference, attended by more than 200 participants, was the occasion to present the aim and content of the research and to make the research newsletter widely available. This is a newsletter list set up for the duration of the research project, the aim of which is to keep those involved in the project, whether as collaborators or simply as interested parties, regularly informed of current developments and news. In addition, the newsletter list will be the first place where the Quick Report, which will be produced from the analysis of the data, will be disseminated. The possibility to subscribe to the newsletter has been regularly announced on GYIÖT’s website, in the regular professional newsletter and on our social media platforms.
We then contacted individual professionals, other organisations and institutions, as well as associations of other professions, by letter and telephone, inviting them to cooperate, and received mostly positive feedback.
For our organisation, it was a particularly resource-intensive task to compile a database containing the contact details of people and organisations who were the target group of the questionnaire survey and/or who had access to this group of people, i.e. potential collaborators. In building and organising the database, we have compiled a database of persons and organisations with whom we have worked or got to know through our activities in the past years. We also searched the internet databases, websites and the public register of NGOs (court register of NGOs) available on birosag.hu for organisations whose name included the term youth or young people. We also filtered the relevant contact details on the websites of the mayors' offices of municipalities with a population of over 10,000 inhabitants and consulted a number of thematic groups available on social media.
In order to make sure that all stakeholders had been informed about the research and communication campaign "Are you involved in youth work?", we contacted the target group of the questionnaire - known or assumed - by phone calls, in addition to e-mails.
For those organisations that agreed to cooperate in the communication campaign, a detailed description and information package was prepared and presented in three online meetings, which were publicly advertised. The information pack included a press conference on the communication campaign, a technical description of the content and use of the shared Google Drive folder, the content of social media posts and the image content that could be freely used. Some of the visual content was designed to allow the partners to place their own logo on it, or even text content of their own creation, and a short written (and verbal in the online meetings) support was provided. In order to make the collaborating partners visible to the general public, we have published their logos in a separate entry on GYIÖT’s website, but we know of significantly more collaborating organisations and individuals than the number of organisations that have sent us their logos.
During the campaign period, our content was featured in the newsletters, websites and social media platforms of a number of county, regional and national organisations, typically invited to contribute to the promotion by GYIÖT staff or collaborating partners.
The campaign period
The online campaign period started on 20 March 2023, World Happiness Day, preceded by a two-week "warm-up" period. At that time, the campaign images were published on GYIÖT's Facebook page, all of which were designed to show the added value of youth work, with the text of the images starting with the sentence "When youth work is recognised..."
We planned the communication campaign and the survey period until April 2, 2023, which we planned to extend for another week if the survey did not receive a positive response, which we did, so we closed the survey and the campaign period on Tuesday, April 12, 2023, with the Easter weekend. During the campaign period, a total of 10 short videos were published on social media platforms, and visual and text messages were posted and distributed not only on the platforms of the GYIÖT but also on those of partner organisations. The content was typically published on working days, as we found that the reach on weekends is much lower than on weekdays.
Preparing and running the campaign was a major resource-intensive task, especially in terms of human resources. In order to both produce the content and to involve the collaborating and contributing organisations and individuals, a significant number of hours of colleagues' time were reallocated to this project. The campaign was implemented by 8 people working an average of 20 hours per week from the end of February to the beginning of April 2023. Six of them are permanent staff members of the organisation, half of whom work full-time, and half of whom work between 20 and 30 hours per week on the organisation's tasks and projects. In several cases, the reassignment of tasks has meant that staff have had to take on new tasks that they have not previously experienced or are not necessarily comfortable with, while progressing more slowly with activities that are relevant to their job role and responsibilities. In order to keep the campaign's tasks on track, while at the same time ensuring as much support as possible for staff at management level, short meetings (usually between 20 and 60 minutes) were held twice a day. The purpose of these meetings was specifically to work through any stumbling blocks, difficulties or feedback, which was not always pleasant, and to deal with them together. Although we tried to organise the organisation's activities in the spring period in such a way that they would clash as little as possible with other priority projects, unfortunately it still took us almost 4-5 weeks to catch up on these additional tasks.
A further challenge was that in some cases the campaign's deliverables were completed or handed over later than originally planned, with negative consequences. This was very noticeable in cases involving the production of videos, which required the coordination of several people and organisations, with a delay of a day affecting the subsequent tasks of several. In parallel to this, an important lesson for us was to plan for spare time to carry out activities that were not originally planned into the process by us, but are formulated by the contributors, collaborators and possible future collaborators involved. During the campaign, we received several suggestions, questions, requests and invitations either to implement the process or to participate in various events and interviews, which of course had to be agreed and organised.
Despite and in spite of the difficulties, we have experienced and shared significant learning outcomes both at individual and organisational level, not only in terms of campaign planning and implementation, but also in terms of communication skills and improved cooperation.
Results and future plans
The communication campaign outlined above, combined with the survey questionnaire data collection, has produced positive results overall, with a significant contribution from our collaborating partners and the fact that 8 staff members of GYIÖT worked on the project as their primary task during February-March 2023. The professional tasks and the necessary supplies were financed by a grant from the Erasmus+ programme. The majority of the individuals and organisations invited to collaborate responded to our request and contributed, within their capacities, to the sharing of the online content and to the dissemination of the questionnaire to other relevant professionals. We know of nearly 80 organisations that have contributed to the promotion. The organisations that have sent us their logos are listed as collaborators on our website. We have achieved the indicator numbers set out in the call for proposals and, in addition, the number of visitors to GYIÖT's communication platforms and the number of hits have increased dramatically, multiplying the figures of previous years.
During the campaign period, our message reached more than 18,000 people on Facebook and Instagram, and the campaign videos on YouTube reached more than 800 views. We found that the organisations and communities that joined the campaign as collaborators mainly shared text and graphic content. One of the reasons for this is probably that the graphic and text content was made available to the collaborating organisations at the beginning of the campaign period, while the content of the videos was a surprise to them until the last minute.
While the graphics and videos were primarily created for the campaign and were intended to support research-related communication, we were careful to create content with messages and formats that could be incorporated into the organisation's general communications, and to create content that could be used in the long term by organisations and communities who also find it important to raise the profile, visibility and recognition of the profession.
The results of the questionnaire survey were presented at a face-to-face event in Budapest on 17 May 2023. We plan to publish the Quick Report later this summer, which we will also present at online events, and make a short summary available in English. The May event was entitled "The place of youth work", during which we reflected and worked with partners, professionals and stakeholders on how to continue the work started in recent months, based on the research findings, in what directions and how to continue, including to increase the visibility of youth work.
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Related content and contact details
All online content has been published on the GYIÖT Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/aGYIOT
Also on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/agyiot/
The finished images are also in the drive folder below:
The videos produced and distributed were published on the GYIÖT Youtube channel: