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Planning your campaign

Identify campaign opportunities

It is important to pick an issue that would make a good campaign. This may involve:

  • Actions by a public or corporate body which people feel is 'wrong'
  • A threat to people's way of life and the things they care about
  • Solutions or remedies which are politically attractive to decision-makers

Choose the right campaign

Before devoting time and money to a campaign, you should assess the idea.

  • How much of a priority is this issue?
  • Can you afford not to get involved and is the trade-off with other priorities worth it?
  • Do you have the resources to run an effective campaign; if not, how can you get them?
  • Does your group have credibility with the people who will take the decisions and the ability to influence them?
  • What are the chances of success?

Develop a campaign plan

Good campaign preparation means being clear in advance about the nature of the challenge, the institutions and individuals who will decide the outcome, the people and resources available to you and the prospects of success.

Checklist for developing your campaign plan

Identify aims and objectives

Your campaign needs a single, clear, worthwhile and understandable aim. This may require a number of objectives. These will be more use if they are specific, measurable, realistic and time-bound.

Create campaign roles

Assign a campaign coordinator and publicity officer and make sure that contact details are given to volunteers.

Identify opportunities and obstacles

What will work in your favour and what will be the potential obstacles to success? Will your proposals help or hinder the decision-makers in terms of meeting their own objectives?

Who are the targets of the campaign?

You need to identify and influence the people who will actually take the key decisions. This may be opinion-formers, journalists or other interested parties.

Some of these might be potential allies who you can involve at an early stage.

Campaigning in the context of planning applications is all targeted ultimately at the people making the decisions.

A subsidiary objective is to get public opinion, the media, and opinion formers on your side, but this is so that they in turn add to the pressure on the decision makers.

Identify key messages

Identify up to five messages that sum up your campaign objectives, although you may need to emphasize a number of different messages to appeal to different audiences. Think about the overall style and tone of your campaign according to your target. Is a 'softly softly' approach or a higher profile, more contentious campaign needed?

Is research needed?

Is your argument, including any facts and figures, strong enough or do you need case study examples, records or research (existing or new) to strengthen your case?

Tactics and events

Tactics could be meetings, publicity stunts, letter-writing campaigns, presentations or publications. If you will be producing campaign materials, factor the timing and deadlines into your plan.

Timing

You need to take account of relevant external events alongside your own events. What is the best timing and are there events in the calendar (policy, media, print schedules etc) you should be aware of? Are there any events that will overshadow the results of your campaign? Are there any media opportunities that will really boost your messages?

Costs

What are the likely campaign costs (printing, venues, volunteer expenses) and what fundraising effort is required? Budget accordingly.

Compliance

If you are campaigning as part of a charity, you need to check that any activity in your campaign complies with Charity Commission guidelines (www.charity-commission.gov.uk), and your group's own constitution and objectives.

Monitoring your campaign

Use key milestones and progress indicators linked to your campaign objectives. Hold review meetings and use agreed criteria. Acknowledge what you are doing/did well and identify what you could change during the campaign or do differently next time.