Public-private partnership results in viral electoral social media campaign in El Salvador 

Public-private partnership results in viral electoral social media campaign in El Salvador 

Michelle Sucameli


Woman holding and ID card and smiling

This year, El Salvador conducted both local and national elections, which Freedom House noted were marked by widespread "fake news and disinformation campaigns." To prepare the six million citizens of the country for the elections, Pact and IREX's USAID-funded civil society and media program in El Salvador worked with VOTANTE to launch a national civic education campaign that provided the public with information on the electoral process and their rights and responsibilities as voters. Ultimately, this campaign empowered citizens to vote and equipped them with the skills to make informed decisions at the voting booth.

Forging partnerships to amplify reach 

To magnify the impact, the IREX program joined forces with a consortium of civil society organizations, academic institutions, and think tanks dedicated to the promotion of free, competitive, and transparent elections. Together, they partnered with a local advertising firm and a national broadcasting company to co-create and implement a campaign on informed voting in the lead-up to the elections.

Given the highly charged political situation in the nation, messaging was carefully designed and disseminated to counter the manipulative information dominating election news and safeguard against backlash that any discussion on civic rights might provoke. This underscored the importance of building trust among the partners based on a shared sense of values and clear understanding of the campaign and each partner’s objectives.   

As a communications platform with a wide reach nationally, we consider it not only a part of our civic duty but also our ethical responsibility to encourage citizens to exercise their right to vote"

- Broadcasting Company

Each partner contributed its unique expertise and resources to the partnership: civil society consortium members leveraged their connections and access to communities, as well as analytic and academic knowledge; the advertising firm worked on the conceptualization and design of the scripts, supervised the message production process, and developed a media plan; and a production team from the broadcasting company developed the scripts, produced the videos, and provided free air time valued at $425,000.

Leveraging media campaigns to inform voters 

The campaign ran for the two months leading up to both the national and local elections. The team created videos highlighting the importance of the right to vote, youth engagement in voting, and the power of your voice and your vote.  The videos were featured on the civil society consortium’s social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and X (Twitter) and 11 of the videos were broadcast on four television channels. 

Social media reach exceeded 4 million users and more than 12 million impressions, and the videos on television were broadcast over 22 million times. Through reaching so many diverse people with this voting rights campaign, Pact and IREX’s USAID-funded civil society and media program educated and empowered local voices to more meaningfully participate in the national elections. Targeting the national electorate at all levels, including groups with historically low levels of voter participation (i.e.: youth, rural voters, and disabled populations), this campaign reached all facets of Salvadoran society, encouraging them to make their vote count and voices heard.

This campaign brought an important impartial voice and counter narrative to the onslaught of misinformation and partisan messages that characterized the electoral cycle. This unique initiative led by leaders of business and civil society provides a road map for effective partnerships and continued efforts to push back against democratic backsliding.

Civil Society and Media-Strengthened Together and Advancing in New Directions (CSM-STAND), a five-year Leader with Associates Award with Pact as the holder of the leader award and recipient of the Leader Award, and IREX as co-lead and head of the media component. Launched in 2021, the CSM-STAND consortium’s goal is to foster independent civic forces, enhance civic engagement, and build vibrant, resilient, and self-reliant civil society and media sectors that cultivate more pluralistic and democratic societies.