The OECD Recommendation of the Council on Open Government underlines, open government and stakeholder participation initiatives should include specific efforts “dedicated to reaching out to the most relevant, vulnerable, underrepresented, or marginalised groups in society”.

Open government strategies and initiatives aim to support democracy and inclusive growth. They are considered an important tool to increase transparency, accountability and integrity, whilst building stronger relationships between government and citizens allowing them to participate in policy-making.

The OECD Recommendation calls uponadherents to “actively communicate on open government strategies and initiatives, as well as on their outputs, outcomes and impacts, in order to ensure that they are well-known within and outside government, to favour their uptake, as well as to stimulate stakeholder buy-in”.

In this context, tailored communication efforts and strategies from stakeholders’ side are crucial to reach targets, specifically youth.

Understanding how young people use technology and reflect their use of traditional and new media into tailored communication strategies plays a central role for governments seeking to efficiently inform, communicate and engage with them. Technology and in particular social media has become an important part in young people’s everyday life. Indeed, in OECD countries in 2016, over 95% of 16–24-year-olds used the Internet (OECD,2017), while almost 90% of 16–24-year-olds internet users in EU member states use social networks in 2017 (European Commission, 2018). 53% of 18–24-year-olds use social media as a gateway to news, compared to 33% accessing them directly, according to a study in selected countries (Reuters Institute, 2018). Yet, technology is not used to the same extend to interact with the government and participate. In 2013, only 40% of young Europeans interact online with the public administration while only 18% use social media to engage in civic and political life (Mickoleit, 2014). There is thus a need and potential to extend the use of the online debate to engage and communicate with youth.

 In practice all stakeholders and policy makers should:

  • Promote inclusive communication
    • Carry out surveys of existing youth engagement channels (youth groups, youth councils, internship
      programmes, etc.) and determine demographic profile of each programme
    • Identify gaps in current engagement efforts: regional, age, gender, socio-economic background
    • Identify existing civil society organisations working in these areas missing from current communication strategies
    •  Ensure that all government communications strategies are monitored for inclusivity

  • Explot the potential of digital tools

Research demonstrates that young people increasingly consider that there is no single source of information they prefer to turn to for political news and views. Moreover, young people are no longer content to merely receive information from official authorities, media outlets and opinion leaders but increasingly expect to play a role in producing or sharing it (Wells, 2014). A successful approach to engage large numbers of young people is to adopt a more networked, digital approach to communications that expects young people to participate actively.

  • Take it direct and simple, adopting
    • Simple, clean, uncluttered advertising
    • Honest and straightforward in approach
    • Not patronising, condescending, or authoritarian
    • Simple language
    • Brief and to the point
    • The use of music as a key element
    • Use images, colour, strong visuals
    • People and situations with whom they can identify

Source: Australian Government, Office for Youth, 2009