» 12 basic guidelines: Say what you mean

say what you  mean

Directly or indirectly, a campaign consists of persuading others not just that you are right but that you are so right that they must take some form of action.

Everyday we are exposed to many thousands of messages. Almost all are ignored or immediately discarded. Very few things 'stick' and anything which makes a message hard work to understand, makes it less likely to stick.

The simplest thing you can do to help your message is to be direct and straightforward. Forget being 'clever'. When all else fails (as it probably will): say what you mean. (Try telling a relative - when they 'get it', use their way of saying it).

The name of a campaign is case in point. One of the most successful anti-motorway campaigns in the UK was called 'Stop The Box'. It was a 1970s campaign to stop the construction of the inner London 'motorway box'. It succeeded: today you can drive along the few fragments that did get built, complete with over-size junctions and elevated spurs that end in mid-air. Other campaigns, with more complex names, did not get so far.

Obviously a name is only one element but a puzzling name is no help. Who remembers for example what ALARM or SAFE stood for? Both good 1990s campaigning organisations but with names that needed to be explained before you got to what they wanted. The 'Stop The Box' campaign however had its name in the title. Nobody from the campaign could even be interviewed on tv or radio without the journalist acting as a publicity agent for the campaign.