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How to use campaigns for exit work?

An overview of Exit Germany‘s target group approach

By Fabian Wichmann.


How do you reach a target group that is relatively insular and communicate with a message that is meant to challenge their worldview? What role can campaigns play in this context and, how has the target group reacted to corresponding actions? Can campaigns reach into groups like neo- Nazi groupuscules and trigger a de-radicalisation or disengagement effect in the recipient? And if this is the case, how can these processes be made visible?

In its 20 years of existence, Exit Germany has developed and implemented a variety of target group approaches, like online and offline campaigns, flyers, co-operations with influencers, former who are visible in the media, to name just a few of them. The article presents a review of Exit Germany’s target group approach, their public relations strategy related to this, and a case study of three strategic communications campaigns of Exit Germany and their objectives.

Uniquely, this article is also about how the topic of exiting is discussed in the right-wing extremist scene. Song texts and social media reactions by right-wing extremists to Exit Germany campaigns are provide insight on responses. In addition to qualitative and quantitative insights into the implementation of the campaigns and experiences, the paper quotes people who have left the right-wing extremist scene and experienced Exit Germany strategic communcations campaigns during their active time. The article concludes with lessons learned.

This paper was released in connection with the podcast: „Deradikalisierung und Ausstieg im kommunalen Kontext“ and also presented at the Conference: 4th Addressing the New Landscape of Terrorism as well at the Ontario Tech University in 2022.

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Video-Podcast: Deradikalisierung und Ausstieg im kommunalen Kontext