Effective strategies to campaign for change

Does your business or organisation want to campaign for change or need to raise awareness of an important issue? Perhaps there is a piece of legislation, public policy or bureaucracy which needs reform. Maybe you are determined to fight for justice or set the record straight. There might be a need for you to protect or enhance your reputation.

One primary tactic that can deliver real impact is to achieve publicity for your campaign through the media. For this to be successful it is vital that you have a clear winnable goal, a focussed message and a regular stream of content. No campaign for change will be successful unless you are prepared to sustain it until you achieve a victory. You need a constant flow of fresh ideas, using a range of PR techniques like news commentary, thought leadership, visual stunts and research.

No-one understands how to run a campaign in the media better than the newspapers. Arguably the most successful of them all is the Daily Mail. When the journalists at Derry Street commit to a campaign they will devote many pages to the cause over a long period of time. Their recent successes have included MailForce, to provide PPE for frontline workers, Computers For Kids and The Great British Spring Clean.

The Sun too is a superb campaigning newspaper and mobilises its readers to powerful effect. Through its Jabs Army campaign the newspaper recently helped to encourage tens of thousands of people to volunteer with the vaccinations programme.

Any campaign can learn a lot from scrutinising how the popular press launch and sustain a campaign. The key lessons are that successful campaigns must be bold, relentless and persistent – with a very clear and simple message. There must be a call to action and a winnable goal.

Another campaign approach is to integrate traditional ‘media relations’ with Public Affairs, or ‘lobbying’, in order to amplify your campaign through politicians and stakeholders. This twin tactic can be far stronger than the sum of its parts.

Politicians sit up and take notice when they hear about a campaign through the media. At the same time, newspapers and broadcasters will show more interest in a subject when they see politicians taking about it.

In the last few months the campaigns team at The PHA Group has engaged with press and politicians on a number of issues involving the pandemic and Brexit. Recent clients have included high profile-individuals fighting legal cases, groups of businesses with a common problem in their sector all the way through to individuals bringing judicial reviews.

At the start of this year we began work with a consortium of five UK commercial airlines to raise awareness of the damage the Brexit deal has caused the British aviation industry. Whilst EU carriers are still allowed easy access to the UK, the same treatment is not being reciprocated. We successfully placed articles in The Guardian, The Financial Times and Mail on Sunday and also secured an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme. At the same time we set up MP briefings with politicians including Shadow ministers for Aviation and Transport. The campaign is gaining momentum in Whitehall, with the DfT having now been tasked to form a working group in order to explore the proposals we are calling for.

Another recent campaign was to overhaul the way airline fares are processed, in order to speed up refunds to travellers when flights are cancelled. Our team worked on behalf of the leading travel agent TravelUp to call for future airfares to be ringfenced and held in a secure third party ‘trust account’ until take off. That way refunds could be issued quickly in the event of a cancellation. We placed a number of pieces in the national press about the issue and also worked on a political campaign. We secured briefings for TravelUp with over 20 MPs (including Shadow Ministers and the Chair of the Transport Select Committee). The Civil Aviation Authority has now launched a consultation on the plan.

Whilst the campaigns work we do at The PHA Group is incredibly varied, there are always some common threads. Experience has shown us that every campaign needs an aim or objective and needs to be winnable, interesting, relevant and relatable.

The first step is to ask yourself: what are we trying to achieve? Try and distil that down into a single sentence. The rest of your campaign should build from there.

If you have a campaign which needs a boost, please get in touch with our team today to discuss how we could help define your narrative and deliver it to the right people across Westminster and the media.

Get in touch with the team