How do you make a campaign take off?

One question that I have been thinking quite a lot about over last few months is how do you make a campaign take off? In a lot of my work around the world, my initial focus for support is helping people think through their campaign message. And, as I written about many times before this in blog, I think it’s about having a clear campaign message articulating your problem and knowing the solution that you want to advocate to address that problem.

Recently I reached the stage with assignments in both Kenya and Liberia where we had a really clear focus on what it was we wanted to achieve but possibly less clear about how we were going to build momentum to push for change.

And I was struggling to see how I could help these two groups move from having a really clear campaigning message to developing a plan that could energise their campaigning. In the end I decided to draft a future story for both groups.

Now, I’ve written before about the importance of a future story in campaigning and won’t repeat myself now suffice to say that I think it is critical in campaigning to have a clear sense of how you think change will actually happen in the future on your issue as a result of your campaigning.

I was reluctant initially to initiate a future story for each group.This really would not be my preference. I would much have preferred the groups themselves to you have constructed their own future story, and indeed that is what I’ve been able to support in the past. But sometimes it is just really difficult knowing how to start the process of developing such a future story.

So, for both groups in the two countries I drafted a potential future story for them. I sent it to them with a high degree of intrepidation not thinking that it would work, and being acutely conscious that this was not me telling them how to run their campaign.

But I was amazed with the result. Neither group stuck with my future story, but in both cases it seemed to be the catalyst for them to begin to develop their own future story. I was really excited to see how they used my draft as a basis to critique to help them to develop their own future story.

I know from my own experience that sometimes you can just be too involved in an issue to be able to stand back and look objectively at how you can best develop momentum for your campaign. Sometimes it does take somebody from the outside, a fresh pair of eyes, to offer a potential perspective having listened to discussions, but to do so as a catalyst for their own discussions to develop their own future story.

I will in future be more keen to offer a draft future story as a key part of supporting campaigning around the world.


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