Methods of campaigning can vary dramatically depending on your campaign aim, resources, budget and target audience. However, there are certain campaign methods that can be applied even if you have limited time and resource. The methods below are not exhaustive – new and creative ways of campaigning are being developed all the time, but the list below highlights some of the tried and tested routes for getting your campaign message heard.
Letter writing can be a simple yet effective way to highlight your cause – it could be to a politician or decision maker. You may know who it is that can make the decision you want, or, you may write to someone who may help you influence the decision makers – your local newspaper for example. It is preferable to keep letters clear and short, and refrain from aggression or abusive language. It is also a good idea to ask for a reply. You may wish to embark on a letter writing campaign by encouraging others to write too – a powerful way of reinforcing your campaign message.
Face to face canvassing
If it is a campaign issue that affects a particular locality you may wish to embark on face to face canvassing (could be door to door or on your local high street). Have a clear list of key messages that you want to share and perhaps a particular action for the people you are talking to e.g. like your facebook page, write a letter, come to a meeting…
Public meetings can be a particularly useful method at the start of a campaign – you can gauge interest and identify if the majority of people have the same idea about your campaign aim. Public meetings can be open to the public and also to key decision makers – this can be an effective way to get your concerns heard early on in the campaign. Public meetings do take time and preparation, they should be chaired well to ensure an effective meeting is had and progress is made, even if it is small. Take the time to identify who you want to ‘invite’ and ensure the meeting times with their schedule.
Meeting with decision makers
Decision makers are essentially the people who have the power to make the decision. The first step is to identify who it is that holds the power to make the decision on your campaign and then request a meeting. This may be a local councillor, MSP or another government official. As with public meetings, meetings with decision makers require thought and preparation – what do you want to get out of the meeting? Key points you would like to get across? Who else will be there? It may be worth drafting an agenda and circulating that in advance if appropriate. Take minutes and circulate to interested parties.
Stunts are a creative and highly impactful way of getting your campaign message across – they don’t always need to be ambitious to create profile. If you plan a stunt, ensure that your message is clear and that you know what you want to say when people ask. In addition, think about how long your stunt will last and will it involve props? Think about how you will alert people in advance of the stunt taking place. You may want to invite along your local newspaper’s journalist and photographer. If you do, think about what key message you want to get across and try to think what would look good in a picture.
Events and Street stalls
You can run your own event and publicise appropriately – this can be a good way for people to get to know your campaign in a ‘drop-in’ way. Street stalls usually require permission from the local council so ensure you follow any protocol. As with previous events, be prepared with what you want to say and any actions you would like of people.
Social Media – Twitter, Facebook and YouTube
The power of social media is worth harnessing if you have the time and knowledge – or can ask someone who does! Facebook pages are a great way to start and share discussion, as well as accruing followers to your campaign and providing updates. Twitter can be used for creating short messages and you can directly message decision makers if they have an account. You may wish to create a Twitter account for the campaign opposed to using your personal details. It is important to keep your account up to date or followers will lose interest. Posting clips and videos on YouTube can be a great visual way to communicate your campaign message – even video clips taken using a mobile phone or tablet.
Petitions are a great way to highlight the amount of support you have – decision makers will often respond if they can see the number of people that are supportive. Think carefully about your petition statement and who it is aimed at. You may have a plan for distributing hard copy petitions and/or use an online facility. You may wish to think about having a physical hand-in of the petition to the target or decision maker. This can be good to generate a media opportunity and a good way to raise your campaigns profile.
Every campaign is different in what methods are appropriate – choose what is feasible for you and your campaign message.