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Escalate It | Chapter Two

How to Build a Campaign Strategy

A handy chart to help you get started step by step when building a campaign strategy.


What to do
How to do it

Step 1:

Identify the broad goal or mission of your organisation or campaign

Communication efforts are most successful when they are grounded in your organisation’s overall mission and developed with your unique goals and challenges in mind. Start by clarifying what your organisation or campaign is trying to accomplish overall in the short, medium and long term, so your tactics and tone can reflect and compliment these goals.

Step 2:

Identify the key stakeholders to develop your media strategy

List the key people - both inside and outside your organisation, including those affected by the situation about which you are campaigning - who should have a voice in determining how the organisation, campaign or issue will be represented to the public. Consider whether your organisation has the human resources to create and implement a media strategy on its own, or if you should bring in a media consultant to facilitate or provide guidance.

Step 3:

Outline your goals

Bring key stakeholders together to think about why and how engaging the media will help you reach your goals. Is there a specific decision maker or segment of the public you want to influence? List some outcomes you would like to see as a result of your engagement with the media. These goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound or timely. For example, increase visitors to our website by 20% this year; have 1,000 people at our demonstration; have 500 letters sent to the government by a certain date; get coverage of our campaign in international media. See Setting Campaign Objectives.

Step 4:

Identify whose behaviour you need to influence to achieve your goals

Can the public make this happen? Do you need to reach one politician in particular or are you seeking a response from an organisation or group? Would it be more effective to lobby the key individual/group directly, or to generate public support around the issue and apply pressure? Is this target audience prepared to hear what you have to say? What are some of the concerns they may have that could stand in the way of reaching them?

Step 5:

Create an overall theme for your media strategy

What is the big picture you want to convey? What key message will resonate with your audience? A good way to approach this is to base your messages on their core concerns and look to overcome - not reinforce - the barriers that may be in the way.

Step 6:

Identify the best way to reach the target audience

Ask yourself:
• From where does this group of people get their news and information?
• With that in mind, what is the most appropriate tactic for disseminating your campaign and message? In the eyes of your target audience, who will deliver the message with credibility?
• Is this individual/group internal or external to your organisation?
• What media will be used for delivering the messages, with the intent being to influence the behaviour of the target audience?

Addressing these questions will help determine whether you should focus on mainstream media - such as newspapers, radio, TV, internet, social media, paid advertising - or a combination of options. If your target audience is not highly literate, audiovisual media such as radio or television may be most appropriate. However, if you are also aware that access to television is limited, radio would become the predominant choice. If your target audience is predominantly urban, middle-class and computer-literate, then a combo of newspaper, TV, radio and internet/social media engagement may be ideal. This will also give you an idea of what media you should be monitoring for stories related to your campaign, so you can react to or give input on related issues, thereby increasing your chances for success.

Step 7:

Engage the media

Once you have determined your target media, look at more specific tactics for engaging those media. This section offers introductory resources to help you get started, including:
Holding a Press Conference
How to Write a Press Release
How to Make a Press Kit

Step 8:

Decide how to measure your progress

Measuring your progress is important to evaluate success and build more effective long-term strategic planning. However, it's important to focus on both process and results, as they each offer important lessons. See Evaluation and Monitoring.

Step 9:

Build a media contact list

If your organisation is creating a media strategy for the first time, one thing you absolutely must do is build a media contact list. The media is all about contacts. Sending releases and information into the general news pool can work, but it is not as effective as targeting people who know, like and support you and your organisation.

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