Ultimately, before setting out on a campaign, it is key to define what you want to achieve at the end of the process. What is the end goal and what are the wider potential implications of reaching this end-point? A campaign will ultimately only be successful if it has a clear goal it seeks to reach, be that stimulating broader debate or demonstrating thought leadership credentials.
Once your objective has been set, it is also important to consider the purpose of your campaign. This is about something that goes beyond you, your interests, and your own bubble. Purpose takes expansion plans or ambition, and channels all this into something that matters. Campaigns must matter to other people if they are to gain momentum or make a significant change.
The audience of your campaign is something that you must keep in mind at all times. It’s the audience who judge taste, not the artist or the chef. Leadership may be vital, but who do you want to lead? Who matters? Who will listen? Who will hear? What kind of people are they?
Firstly, keep things simple: what kind of campaign will you be conducting? For example, will you be running a public information campaign or will you be persuading a key audience of a technical point? By assessing this, it should become clearer what is needed to successfully run your campaign. As a general rule – the more complicated a campaign, the less likely it is to have the outcome you want.
Potentially, given the current media climate, this is the most important element of a campaign. You only have to look at recent articles regarding ‘fake news’ to understand that the credibility of factual evidence is now under scrutiny more than ever. Facts should never be lost amongst big ideas. If focusing on people and opinions, you should always make sure this measures up against reality, too – it is these facts that will support opinions and make a campaign credible.
Emotion is the appetite of campaigns. Cold, hard, physical facts need the warmth, life, and spirit of emotion – they are mutually dependent on each other. Just as we all need a reason for facts to matter, your campaign needs to tell a story that not only resonates, but also adds up. How do you feel about this issue? How does your audience feel? How should they? Why should they care?
Along with emotion, personality might be seen as the raising agent that lifts your campaign and brings it to life. You need a face to tell a story. And no, a ‘brand’ on its own isn’t enough. You need to understand your own ethos, and it needs to be personal, because if you don’t your audience will define you anyway, and reputations stick.
All these ingredients are essential to developing a successful campaign in the modern world. Remember that individual tactics for campaigning could fill a library. But crucially, without your overall recipe, or some semblance of a plan, you may as well blend the contents of a supermarket and call it a smoothie. The results would be unpleasant, unpopular, and probably come with serious side effects.