In a climate where mainstream media space is at a premium and charities facing a more hostile press, a group at the Campaigning Forum in Oxford convened to look at how charities and progressive campaigners can get the good news out there.
Almost 20 suggestions came forward from campaigners which can be summarised into five main areas:
1) Get your influencers, stakeholders and high profile supporters lined up ready to share your campaigns, campaign successes and case study stories. This not only means getting a celebrity supporter to tweet their backing, but lining up email content to mailing lists influencers may have GDPR-compliant access too and working on joint events to generate engaging content for main stream and social media.
2) Be as radical as possible in your media tactics as possible. Play the mainstream media at their own game and give them the content they want. Photo friendly demonstrations, controversial issue hijacks and spokespeople ready to take a strong line.However, this means that to be as front foot as possible, trustees and senior management need to be onside with this approach (and if they are the ones demanding national coverage, they should listen to the comms experts in their organisations) and a rapid sign off process agreed.
The test should be, if you need to respond in 15 minutes, how would you do it?
3) Galvanise volunteers, staff, beneficiaries and their family and friends. You’re your news story or campaign is ready to go, have you got a toolkit of information and content ready for your immediate circles to share – or even better – give them suggestions but let them come up with their own content in their own voice. Don’t be afraid of letting go of a campaign to help it get reach.
One example cited in Ireland is an organisation which knows where all their campaigners are from, so they can rapidly roll out comms campaigns where they pass the message on to friends and family and act as local spokespeople in the media.
4) Think local. This means using your good news stories in local and regional press (print, online and radio/TV), but also engaging with hyper local on/offline media, Facebook Groups linked to areas and Twitter chats for regions. Many nationwide campaigns will focus all their time on national media for limited returns, moving time over to local media could yield more effective coverage.
5) Make the most of what you have. Too many campaigners have a “Won that. What’s next” mindset. We need to move out of this and ensure we celebrate every little campaign win, provide regular updates of how a campaign is progressing, reveal the behind the scenes activity and don’t be afraid to use content designed for one audience for a wider splash if it’s proved effective.
While these five tips may be useful in the short term, they don’t overcome a more longer-term systemic problem: there are not enough media outlets prepared to cover good news. Yet, there are millions of people in the UK alone who want to hear about progressive campaign success or how they can take action.
In addition, there are many in the centre ground who no longer hear about the work of charities as they are seen to be the preserve of the left.
Both of these barriers need to be broken down and Members of social enterprise marketing firm Campaign Collective will be meeting in June to discuss the ideas put forward at the Campaigning Forum and how this can be achieved. Watch this space…
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