Communicating Syrian Peace Talks

Challenge

Albany was contracted by the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office to provide communications support to the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) in the build-up to and during the Geneva II peace talks in 2014. The aim was to strengthen the SNC’s legitimacy, and therefore their negotiating position, empowering them to propagate their own narrative and counter regime narratives. Secondary objectives included increased Syrian awareness of Geneva and SNC legitimacy.

Approach

To this end, Albany set-up a full service 24/7 press office in order to provide the capacity and support so the SNC could handle all media relations, particularly at the Geneva II talks, where 1100 journalists were accredited.  The staffing structures also included media monitoring and news analysis, a newsroom-style production unit, a social media unit, a translation service and a management team which could monitor, evaluate and readjust the strategic trajectory of the narrative as necessary.

Outcome

Through strategic communications and media management assistance, the SNC performed far better in the media war than observers thought it would, finally presenting itself as a negotiating partner in peace. Although the talks themselves did not yield any positive steps to improve the situation on the ground in Syria, the SNC at least left Geneva being perceived as a credible political force and government in waiting.