A good campaign

In many ways, a good campaign is like a good joke. A joke’s effectiveness lies in the choice of the right words, good timing, a convincing delivery, and a funny punchline. A good joke is memorable and easy to share. All of these factors ultimately depend on having an understanding of the values and beliefs of the audience and on the authority of the person delivering the joke.

There are many strategies for intervening in an issue but they can be divided into 3 categories: Interruption, Education, and Coercion.

Interruption #

The important thing to remember when questioning the dominant narrative is to avoid preaching to the quire.

Sometimes an interruption might seem clever but it’s only going to appeal to like-minded people.  Those kinds of campaigns will be easily dismissed by the people it actually needs to appeal to.  If you’re going to question the narrative then you should be targeting people on the other side of the fence and focusing on new and interesting ways that you can bring those people into the fold.

Take it too far and the dark side of revelation is overexposure. Sometimes it’s called voyeurism,  sometimes it’s compassion fatigue, other times it’s just ‘disaster pornography’. Overuse creates stereotypes that have the opposite effect on the intended audience.

Education #

Educational campaigns that shift a narrative often call for larger shifts in perception. They’re often protracted and involve many groups over a longer period of time. Showing this development and sense of progression is key to educating and informing people.

Coercion #

Compelling action by some type of force usually involves challenging the narrative to reveal concealed facts.

Coercion and public shame are risky approaches to the campaigning because it becomes difficult to control the message once things escalate.

Capturing attention with shock is difficult to get right. If badly executed it will alienate and insult an audience. However, when used effectively it spreads quickly and rapidly draws attention to an issue.

In highly provocative campaigns, humor can be a useful tool as it softens the blow and can draw people in. Our visual environment tends to be oversaturated so humor and irony when used right, can be very effective. The trick is to contextualize the humor for a given audience.

The perfect advocacy campaign gives the audience the information they need, in the right amount at the right time.

No more no less.


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