1 What is campaigning?

The cookie story

What is campaigning? The best definition of campaigning that I have ever heard was given by a guy called Mark Lattimer at a conference that I attended many years ago. As I remember it (and you can also watch my video below), he was asked how he would define campaigning. He invited the audience to picture the scene of a small girl at home in her kitchen with her mother.

The little girl had a problem. Her problem was that she was hungry. But she knew the solution to her problem: her mother had a cookie jar on the top shelf. And she wanted a cookie. She also knew that her mother had the power to give her a cookie. So she tried the direct approach and said, “Mum, Mum, can I have a cookie?” Her mother said, “No”. She then said, “You gave me a cookie yesterday.” So she was using historic precedent – she was a very clever girl. Her mother again said, “No”.

She then said, “You gave my little brother cookie.” Her mother again repeated, “The answer is no.” She then thought for a while and ran next door to the lounge where her father was watching television, and she said, “Dad, Dad – Mum won’t give me a cookie.”

So what is campaigning?

This story is the most basic yet effective definition of campaigning that I have ever heard. The little girl was clear on the problem, she was very clear on the solution to that problem, she was also very clear who had the power to make the change she wanted to see and she then sought to influence that person.

What is so critical about this story is that she was so focused and also she didn’t give up despite her initial failure. When I ran a campaign training workshop in Tanzania a few years ago, their challenge that went out at the end was to find out what was their cookie. To run an effective campaign you must know what your cookie is!

When I think about campaigning, I try to put it very simply in terms of the key things to think about: you need to be clear on the problem, clear on the solution to that problem, clear on who your target should be who has the power to make the change you want to see, and then you seek to influence that person.

If you’re interested to know more about how I seek to define campaigning, why not check out my new MOOC (or Massive Open Online Course) on what is campaigning now available on the Udemy training platform

So now, how about reading about identifying your problem and solution