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Tel: 01227 639768

Michelle Soan

Michelle Soan

Whilst Head of Mobilisation at MacMillan Cancer Support

Apart from your current organisation which other organisations that campaign do you admire?
Alzheimer’s charities – they have executed impressive campaigns for access to treatments targeted at NICE, at the same time as raising the profile of a devastating condition.

Who is the campaigner you most admire?
It’s hard to pick one person, but Marjorie Wallace, SANE’s chief executive has done a huge amount for mental health, which is sadly still seen as a taboo, despite how common it is. Going back in history I have huge admiration and respect for the Suffragettes, namely Emily Davidson who threw herself under the Kings horse in the name of votes for women.

Is there a campaigning organisation that you would like to see the back of?
Not that I’d admit to in public. However, even organisations for issues I disagree with add something to the debate, so I wouldn’t like to see the back of any of them as I believe in freedom of speech.

What advice would you give someone starting their career in campaigning today?
Try new things and don’t be afraid to take risks. Also, look at what other organisations are doing and learn what works and what doesn’t. I have always found it very useful to join the campaign networks of other organisations as a great way to benchmark our activity.

What three things make a good campaigner?
Good communication skills, desire to try new ideas, and flexibility – willing to change strategy and tactics to react to the changing environment

Which of these three do you have most of?
I would say communication skills. In order to run successful campaigns it’s essential to engage and motivate a team that you don’t line manage. I believe the key to that is building good relationships and communicating effectively with the team and all stakeholders (internally and externally).

Which of these three do you think is missing most out of people who campaign or want to?
I think generally there can be a reluctance to trying new ideas and taking risks, but this may not be about the individual and more about organisations not being open to new ideas in case they don’t succeed. New ways to campaign are constantly evolving, particularly with the rapid growth of online social media opportunities. I think you need to be bold and take risks to keep campaigns fresh. I’ve been fortunate that I have been able to, but it requires you to be very persuasive.

Generally are organisations getting better at campaigning since you began your career?If so, what’s changed?
I’d like to think so. There are still some out there who think it’s just down to PR stunts, but there is so much expertise out there and new technology that it’s exciting to see what organisations are doing.

If you weren’t a campaigner, what would you be?
Working in the media – I love the buzz and unpredictable nature of it.