Campaigns, Policy, campaigns & research

Making your campaigning more creative

What makes campaigning distinct from "business as usual"?

Creative practitioners

Campaigners are often creative practitioners, forced through pressures of time and money to come up with new, imaginative approaches. While I was at WWF-UK some years back, campaign strategist Chris Rose came up with the brilliant and novel idea of testing the cocktail of chemicals in peoples’ blood as part of WWF’s toxics campaign. Throw some celebrities into the mix (well, not literally) and the media, industry and politicians had little choice but to sit up and take notice. Similarly, when I was working in HIV/AIDS we created a ‘living billboard’ made up of real people affected by the virus. Those who took part did so willingly because they believed, correctly as it turned out, it would help challenge prevailing attitudes. And, because the space was donated, the whole event cost us nothing.

Stand out from the crowd

So, in a crowded space it’s all about trying to find a tactic or tool that resonates with the public and helps your campaign stand out from the crowd. At the start of a campaign strategy process I often ask campaigners to draw on their innate creativity by encapsulating their campaign in a song, painting, poem, montage or photograph. This is not only fun but also provides an excellent – and quick – way of testing whether the campaign is likely to be communicable and thus resonate with your supporters and stakeholders.

Harness the (creative) force

You can also look to harness the creative force within the whole organisation. Someone sitting on reception or working in finance will often come up with the most amazing and original campaign concept – if only they are given the opportunity. For example, most organisations rely on a dedicated individual to take care of their social media. Why not set competitions and prizes to motivate other members of staff or volunteers to come up with ideas for social media initiatives? An inspired twitter hashtag can make all the difference.

Change hearts and minds

I don’t believe in campaign gimmicks for the sake of it but the right stunt, the right picture, the right story (backed up with evidence of course) can truly change hearts and minds. Before your next campaign planning session, why not take some time out (preferably away from the office environment) and let your imagination soar. We all know the best campaigns are those that bring something new to the table, some creative spark that sets the world alight.

Matthew will be speaking along with Chris Rose and others at the Campaigning Conference & Training Day on Friday 27 November. For more information and to book, click here now.