A few weeks ago I was running a session for some community organisations on developing a campaign message. We had covered the key ground of highlighting the problem and the solution, as well as spending some time testing the message using the elevator test.
I have found this test to go down really well in campaign training – you act as though you have just stepped into an elevator and meet the person that you have spent weeks trying to speak to as part of your campaign – and you have 12-15 seconds to make your campaign pitch. It’s a bit of fun but also a great way to hone your campaign message).
Anyway we had covered some of the basics and the session seemed to be going well, when one of the participants lobbed in a question – “this was all well and good,” he said, “but how should you use what your opponents say about your issue? Or should you just ignore it?”
Good question – and it opened a good debate amongst the group. Opinion was split as to whether opposition should just be ignored and that you need to stay focussed on your campaign ask, or whether you should analyse any opposition and seek to use it in your campaign planning.
I must add that I used to be firmly in the former camp. When I started out campaigning, I had very little interest in what opposition there was to my campaigns. I knew what I was trying to achieve and put all of my energy into trying to build an alliance to achieve this campaign goal. I had little time for thinking about any opposition to the campaign.
Then a few years ago, I went on a media course and as part of this course we were asked to brainstorm all of the arguments that we had heard used against your campaign.
Have you ever done this exercise? It is a great thing to do in your campaign planning group – just spend a bit of time listing all of the arguments against your campaign. And if you do it in a group you will find that you will come up with a longer list of arguments as different people will have picked up on different points against your campaign
In my next blog I will describe how we were encouraged to use this list of arguments to help us strengthen our campaign message….