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Communicating for change

Delivering impactful communications

Introduction to tool

To make change, we need to invest in getting our messages out there.

Delivering Impactful Communications

To reach and engage audiences, changemakers need to:

  1. Go where they are – deliver your messages using the channels and platforms that your audience is most likely to engage with.

    For example: If you’re running a local campaign, you might focus on local newspapers, local radio and community Facebook groups.
  2. Speak their language –  communicate using language, tone and formats that resonate with your audience.

    For example: If you’re trying to engage a younger audience, you need to think about using more video. Focus on content that feels natural to platforms like TikTok.
  3. Use the right messengers –the people you choose to talk about your issue should look and sound like your audience. People will listen more to authentic voices.

    For example: if you’re trying to reach young working mums, they’re most likely to listen to other mums who understand what they’re going through.

To be a successful campaigner we can’t just send a press release or a tweet and hope someone is listening. We’re operating in crowded media spaces, where huge numbers of different voices are competing for our audience’s attention.

Use all the channels available to you in creative and agile ways. And most importantly, capture the audience’s interest with bold and creative tactics. Because for most of us, the biggest risk isn’t that we get negative attention. It’s that we get no attention at all.

So always think about what you can do to make your messages stand out.

Case Study: Pool Party at Rishi’s.

In 2023, the UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak upgraded the national electricity grid near his home to ensure he could power his private heated swimming pool.

In response, Greenpeace brought a group of campaigners together for a “pool party” outside Sunak’s house. Their goal was to highlight that the national grid is too old and slow to connect to new renewables.

Participants wore swimming gear, Hawaiian shirts and scuba suits and brought inflatable pool toys. Based on the stunt, Greenpeace created a video which was watched millions of times online. They also distributed a press release, which saw the story picked up across a range of local and national media.

This was a strong communications activity because it was distinctive, creative and funny. In particular:

  • It connected with a shared interest: having a modern electricity network that can protect the environment and help people with their bills.
  • It offered a problem and culprit: politicians like Rishi Sunak not doing enough to improve the grid.
  • It offered a solution: upgrades to the network that would allow wider use of renewables.
  • It was digital-first and used tone and visuals to appeal to online audiences, who are used to consuming funny, daring and engaging content.

Within a year of this action, the government took the first steps needed to upgrade the grid.

Homework exercise

Thinking about your own work, identify a campaign message or activity you want to communicate.

Set a timer for five minutes and in that time list as many possible communications tactics as you can think of. Don’t stop to consider the practicalities or costs and be as ambitious and creative as you can!

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