Communicating Strategically About Immigrant Integration
The way public figures speak about migration and integration has become increasingly important in an era of high polarisation and contentious policy debates. This new Migration Policy Institute Europe report argues that an effective communications strategy, though often not at the top of policymakers’ to-do lists, is integral to the success or failure of integration policies. Yet government communications related to immigrant integration in the wake of the 2015-2016 refugee crisis have often occurred in ad hoc fashion, clustered around narratives that offer either unabashedly positive views of diversity or fear-mongering about costs, social cohesion and crime resulting from migrant arrivals. The report synthesises the experiences of officials and other stakeholders from across Europe to examine when communication strategies succeed and when they stumble with messages that inadvertently inflame tensions or that are ignored or misremembered. Among the key lessons: Messages that are overly positive may be perceived as disingenuous or out of sync with on-the-ground realities, while those that fail to tap into an audience’s lived experiences and emotions or do not come from a trusted messenger are likely to be dismissed.