Producing community-based campaigns that work

Today John (Gilbert) and I were in Grimsby to meet with local authority professionals and cast members of Alfie’s Story; a film we released last November based on the real-life experiences of young people who have been criminally exploited.

It was a great opportunity to evaluate the process, the impact the film has had and where we can go next. We discussed some very exciting ideas and future possibilities which made us reflect on what’s needed to produce a community-based campaign that works. Here are some of the fundamentals we came up with:

1. Start with the end in mind.

What do you want your campaign to achieve? Having a goal and knowing the legacy you want to leave is the first thing you should consider before you have even started. This means specifying the attitudes and behaviours you are seeking to change and working backwards to figure out how that can by achieved. Knowing your destination puts you on the right path without getting lost or detoured along the way!

2. Be authentic.

Involve relevant people and organisations in throughout process to ensure that important voices are heard and speak the truth. Whether that practitioners from organisations who deal with issue on a day-to-day basis, people in the community who are passionate about making a difference or those most deeply affected by the issues you are exploring. Doing this is key to making your campaign as successful as it can be. If the campaign isn’t true to the people, it will lack credibility and it’s a waste of time.

3. Knowing your audiences.

Ask the right people the right questions. Involving your target audience in the creative process and feedback sessions will ensure the message you’re putting out is relevant and relatable to the right people. It’s never going to be a one size fits all approach. Often, it’s going to be more than just one main group you want to target. Social issues can often have a domino effect, so educating all relevant people through the campaign angled in slightly different ways will maximise the amount of people impacted by the message.

4. Don’t do the same old same old.

Everyone is always being told what they should and shouldn’t do and what’s right & wrong; truth is most people know this anyway! So, when messages are put out this way it’s very easy for people to ignore it and see it as just another message telling them what they already know. So, thinking of new and innovative ways to get the point across and explain the issues in a relatable, challenging and sometimes shocking way is going to hit home and make people think. Everyone wants to feel understood, so relatability is crucial.

All of these points are pretty obvious; the trick is to actually apply them!


Alex King, Administrator and special project lead

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