Focus is a key to influence success. Unless you know your messages and that of your opponent, you will not succeed. A narrative often forms the core of an enemy’s attraction. For example, Qulliam, a UK based think tank characterizes the ISIS narrative as: “Islam is under attack and we must defend it” (see: quilliam.org; Countering Islamist Extremist Narratives: A Strategic Briefing, January 2016).
Quilliam also reports that “ISIS publishes more than 30 unique pieces of propaganda each day, and its broader narrative can be stratified into six sub-themes: Brutality; Mercy; War; Victimhood; Belonging; and Utopianism” and argues that “Only by countering the broad Islamist narrative, and how ISIS uses it in its propaganda to radicalise and recruit, will we be able to make progress in our foreign policy priorities for pursuing peace and stability in the region.”
Developing an effective counter narrative requires an in depth understanding of the basis for the target narrative as well as a keen grasp of the communications media and vehicles use to influence target audiences. Naturally language and credibility are key as well as the ability to raise issues with the enemy narrative while not denigrating the base documents upon which the enemy alleges that the narrative is based.
While Quilliam may argue that an attack on the broadest of narratives is the most logical starting point, an alternative approach might be to address sub-themes through a family of messages for each sub-theme and building up a case with the attack on the broader narratives.
The report noted above has some excellent references and examples and is worth your time to check out.
As always, reader input encouraged.
Photo Source: http://www.penguin.com/book/moby-dick-by-herman-melville/9781101100431