» 12 basic guidelines: Right components... right order

ducks in a line

The fire sign follows the sequence:
awareness > alignment > engagement > action

It says:
'Fire' (this is the issue)
'We are all in danger' (alignment)
'Lets go this way' (engagement)
'We are leaving' (action).

As a conversation this is very simple and short. It helps that we all know what a fire is. A real campaign is likely to be far longer and slower but the basic sequence is likely to remain.

A more typical campaign plan might look something like this, introducing both the problem, the 'enemy' (ie the responsible agent of the problem), and the solution.

phases of a campaign

The campaign involves a deliberate series of revelations or communication exercises to take the 'audience' from a state of ignorance, through interest and then concern (components of awareness), into anger and engagement (motivation), and finally into a state of satisfaction or reward. If that happens, the campaign participants or supporters will be ready for more.

On their own, these components do not make sense. They will only get a 'so-what ?' response. And communicate them all at once and there's no involvement in the 'story' of the campaign. A good campaign has to be like a book or a drama - the outcome must be important but unknown.

A very simple example is a petition. For example Friends of the Earth, WWF and Greenpeace promoted www.climatevoice.org (no longer 'live') as an electronic petition aimed at generating over 10 million messages of concern to governments meeting at COP6 in the Hague (the 6th Conference of the Parties of the Climate Convention in 1999). The date of the meeting created a real deadline and the organisers had set a specific threshold - the website had a 'temperature dial' and counter showing how many people had signed up. There are many such online petitions to be found (eg at WWF's exemplary http://passport.panda.org site).

A more dramatic version is Amnesty International's use of letters, and now e-mail and SMS text messaging, to lobby for release of detainees under its campaign www.stoptorture.org.

Amnesty is particularly good at giving feedback, such as this email extract:



The ongoing Urgent Appeal on the Democratic Republic of Congo has recorded some success. Jean-Marie Rusimbuku, UN staff member was released without trial on January 10 - the same day we launched the action. Jeanine Mukanirwa, human rights activist, was released January 14 also without trial. None of them were ill-treated while in detention but they have been asked to report daily till further notice, to the security service detention centre known as the Détection militaire des activités anti-patrie (DEMIAP), Military Detection of Unpatriotic Activities. About 100 other detainees are still being held and we urge you to keep sending appeals for their release.

Many thanks to all those who sent appeals on this case. No doubt, your emails and letters contributed to the early release of Jean-Marie and Jeanine.

For updates and success stories on the other Urgent Appeal cases, please see the pop-out updates on each case at http://www.stoptorture.org"

A larger scale case was the Greenpeace occupation of the Brent Spar oil installation. A struggle between activists and Shell went on over months and was covered daily by television, radio and the press. The drama, which was only resolved hours from the intended sinking, was simple - would it be sunk or not.

Showing a problem may lead to concern but in itself that won't lead to action. Show concerned people that there is a solution and they can become angry. Show them now is the opportunity to force a change, to implement the solution, and give them a way to act - and you have the conditions for engagement.

Campaigns are not about knowing something - such as knowing a solution, they are about involving people in changing events so that solution becomes attainable.