I’m a big fan of a campaign. I say that as a communications professional who has seen plenty of ‘flash in the pan’ announcements over the years which sound great at the time, but are quickly replaced by newer news.
For clarification, the definition of a campaign is “a planned group of especially political, business, or military activities that are intended to achieve a particular aim” (Cambridge Dictionary) or “an organised course of action to achieve a goal” (Lexico). Note: you always need an ultimate aim or goal for a campaign to work.
Campaigns can be short-term – a matter of days or weeks – or long-term, running for months. Or in the case of Marmite’s ‘love it or hate it’ campaign, seemingly indefinitely.
You can incorporate social media channels, your website, employee channels, press titles and advertising. The point is that running a campaign requires – and demonstrates – your genuine commitment to a topic and to the audience.
So, what can campaigns do
1. Stir emotions.
If you raise a topic that people care about, they will naturally be interested. How do you know what that topic is? Organisations exist to make a difference in people’s lives. Remember what this difference is (i.e. your purpose) and you’ll be on the right track. Alternatively, is there a cause, goal or frustration that you and your audience share?
2. Change people’s perspectives.
By looking at a problem in a new way or giving alternate views, people start to change their minds. Even if they don’t, they will become more informed, which in itself will help. Remember the celebrity videos endorsing the Covid-19 vaccines? If you surprise people with the way you present the topic, and in the way you involve them in the discussion, you’ll notice a reaction.
3. Gain precious insight.
People’s responses will tell you everything you need to know about the success of the campaign. Let the audience lead the way. The language people use when they respond, the emotions they feel, the examples they give; it’s valuable information for planning your next steps.
4. Put yourself in the middle of the conversation.
By focusing on a particular topic, you (and your brand) become synonymous with addressing it. Whatever your stance and however the audience responds, you’ve shown that you think it’s important and worth shedding light on. A good example is ITV’s Britain Get Talking campaign.
5. Change something materially.
This is the end goal. If you’ve done your job right, inspired people and given them reasons to believe, things will start to change. By things changing, I mean people’s behaviour because that’s what we ultimately want. Isn’t it?