1, Battlefront, working with Channel 4
2, Campaigns Masterclass and welsh campaigners network
3, Dale and Co Wales correspondent
4, Sharing Wales’ expertise on coalitions
5, Competition winners
There’s not much more enjoyable than helping people develop their campaigning skills. That’s why we are delighted to be working with Channel 4’s Battlefront. Battlefront supports young people to campaign on issues that matter to them. Task 2 have joined Hope and Abby as a mentor on their sign up, stand up, save lives campaign. Aimed at persuading more people to talk about, and join the organ donor register we will be working together until December. You can find out more about the campaign on Hope and Abby’s website, follow the campaign on twitter and like it on facebook.
Working with the WCVA and Toronto’s The Public we delivered a Campaigns Masterclass for campaigners from all around Wales sharing ideas and knowledge. Feedback from the day has been brilliant and it was a total sell out. We are talking to WCVA about laying on another one.
In the mean time we have established a welsh charity campaigners group where we can discuss ideas about campaigning. Sharing information and knowledge. If you are interested in joining visit our google groups page.
Dale and Co
Iain Dale is one of the UK’s top political pundits. His blog Iain Dale’s diary, was a must read and now he has relaunched as Dale and Co. The new collaborative site features top journalists Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Peter Riddell and Mark Seddon. Alison has been bought on board as their Wales correspondent. Writing at least weekly, you can follow her pieces on the site.
Sharing our coalition expertise
When the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats went into coalition at Westminster last year you would have been forgiven for thinking some alien creature had landed in British political life. Of course those of us in Wales are well used to working with coalitions, at a national and local level. NCVO harnessed that knowledge and expertise for a series of posts on how to campaign in a coalition.
Task2 ran a competition to predict the election result. Inundated with entries no –one got it entirely right, closeset were Mark Hinge, of Bay Public Affairs and Paul Harding who works for Jenny Willott MP. For their judgement they have both won some fizz, congratulations.
We are pleased to announce our first bit of transatlantic training. Working with Toronto’s thepublic and the WCVA’s Voices for Change programme we’ll be delivering a Campaigns Masterclass on June 24th in Cardiff.
Details, including how to book one of the few remaining places are below.
24 Jun 2011
Trainers: Alison Goldsworthy & Sheila Sampath
Duration: One day, 9:30am – 4pm. The morning session will be a formal training session and the afternoon will be a chance for bespoke support and work in small groups on individual campaigns.
Venue: Baltic House, Cardiff
Who is this course for?
This course is designed for those working in the voluntary and community sector who are looking for strategic and inspiring ways to mobilise their supporters and create social change. It is aimed at those who already have some experience and understanding of campaigning and who are working on a campaign at present or will be doing so in the near future.
To give participants an overview of strategic campaigning and provide tools and planning techniques they can use to mobilise both activists and policy makers.
Armed with a strong idea and a targeted strategy, your message has the power to inspire dialogue, create understanding and foster social and political change. This interactive and participatory workshop will introduce the fundamentals of strategic campaigning and allow participants to explore and develop their own campaign objectives, messaging and tactics. The result is the basis for creative work that excites, inspires and engages your audiences.
By attending this course, you will be able to:
- Become familiar with the elements of strategic campaigning
- Make distinctions and draw connections between ideas, strategy, tactics and design
- Think more strategically about your organisation’s story, message and targets
- Apply these concepts to your own work in mobilising both the public and politicians and policy makers.
To download an application form, please click here.
About the facilitators
Allison Goldsworthy, Director, Task2
Allison was named as one of PR Week’s 29 under 29 in 2010 for her work as Director of Communications and Events at the Kidney Wales Foundation. The Organ Donation campaign she ran there with Freshwater PR scooped two CIPR Cymru Gold awards. Previously, as UK Campaigns Manager at Leonard Cheshire Disability, Alison was involved in the attitude changing creaturediscomforts.org campaign that won a prestigious Third Sector award. Alison also helped develop then implement a ground breaking approach to local campaigning, now widely cited as best practice within the sector. An active Liberal Democrat, Alison is Deputy Chair of the party’s Federal Executive.
Alison regularly comments on political issues for the media. She has appeared on BBC News, BBC Radio Four’s PM programme, the Politics Show, ITV News, BBC World Service and the Welsh political programmes Dragon’s Eye and Sharp End.
Sheila Sampath, Principal and Creative Director, The Public
Sheila has been crafting creative for social good since 2003. Former chair of the board at the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/Multi-cultural Women Against Rape, she has a background in grassroots anti-oppression activism, which she incorporates into her strategic approach to graphic design and popular education. She is the editorial and art director of award-winning magazine, Shameless — Canada’s feminist voice for young women and trans youth. Sheila is actively involved in local art and music communities, performing and touring in Toronto feminist band, Betty Burke.
Sheila holds a diploma in graphic design from the George Brown College School of Design and an Honours BSc. in Sociology and Psychology from the University of Toronto. Her work as a designer has been widely recognized and awarded by
the Registered Graphic Designers of Ontario, The School of Design and the UTNE Reader. She was the creative lead on The Public’s Check It Out, Guys campaign, winner of the 2010 Transguys Community Award for best action campaign.
Alison and Sheila are both members of the British Council’s future leaders network - TN2020
It’s been a flying start for Task 2 in our first month in business. With the Welsh Assembly elections in full flow, entries have been piling in for our election prediction competition. All you need to do is guess the number of seats each party will have and email them to firstname.lastname@example.org the closest answer will get a bottle of champagne.
Our launch client, the Haemophilia Society got a great result from the Welsh Assembly Government as they sought support for victims of the contaminated blood scandal. Many victims will now receive financial compensation as is the case in other parts of the UK. This follows years of campaigning by the Society, victims and their families and many more. The story was covered by broadcast and print media. Over the coming months Task2 will be continuing to help the campaign as they seek to make sure that all those affected will receive more support.
The Sheila McKechnie Campaigner Awards 2011 are now open. Designed to support the best of the UK’s campaigners winning an award means an invitation to celebrate at a great party in London and some top notch campaigns planning and advice. So if you know a campaigner who inspires you nominate them in one of the 9 award categories.
The annual e campaigning forum took place at the end of March in Oxford. One of the hottest debates was around the role of e-campaigning, and the danger of creating slacktivists. You can catch our response, and links to the video’s covering it on the Task2 blog.
It’s been all change – and exciting change- for Apex Communications the public affairs agency we work with in London. Apex have become Maitland Political joining forces with the formidable Maitland PR. Public Affairs News and PR Week both carried the news
Do you sit at home when people predict election results and shout at the TV as you think people get it wildly wrong? Do you always wish you had more faith in your predictions and bet on them? (or are you sitting on a tidy profit?). If so then join Task2’s election prediction competition to win a bottle of champagne.
All you have to do is predict the number of seats each party will have after the Assembly election. Email your prediction to email@example.com with your name and contact details. The mailbox won’t be opened until after polls have closed – but you do only get to enter once.
Last month’s e-campaigning forum held a debate on one of the big issues currently vexing campaigners- when or does activism become slacktivism.
Micah White and Malcolm Gladwell kick started this debate in the Guardian and New York Times, both framed by the experience ofmoveon.org- in simple terms a longer established US version of 38 Degrees. White and Gladwell both suggest that the use of digital activism has led to
“Political engagement becomes a matter of clicking a few links. In promoting the illusion that surfing the web can change the world, clicktivism is to activism as McDonalds is to a slow-cooked meal”
White goes on to say that the focus on click through, open rates, bounce rates and the measurement tools of the advertising industry stifle creativity and the development of genuinely radically ideas -drowned out by economies of scale.
This kind of stinging criticism did not go unnoticed by people in the campaigning sector, hence the ongoing discussion – the e-campaigning forum didn’t reach any conclusions itself, although the discussion did move the debate on. (catch the videos on youtube via fairsay) 38 degrees, in particular came in for some criticism for encouraging the clicktivist culture. Much of this isn’t fair, 38 degrees, and other organisations including many charities have reached out to more people and engaged them to take action. Two thirds of 38 degrees 750,000 members were not previously involved in campaigning. E-campaigning and social media have offered people new, and easy ways to get involved in our democratic process. That is a good thing and echoes The Pew Research Centre’ findings that suggest being active online is more likely to make you active offline as well.
Micah White is wrong to suggest that a focus on click throughs and advertising demeans the world of activists. It is a way of measuring and learning from impact, donors and funders deserve to know what impact their work is having. It took years for the PR world to move away from using AVE as a unit of measurement for impact. Impact needs to be about change achieved, campaigners should embrace PR practitioners Barcelona principles and use those to show how they are using scarce resources effectively.
Where organisations need to be careful, and Gladwell and White make valid criticisms is the understanding of the proportion of influence it can have. The most common forms of activism tend to be those that take the least time, changing an avatar, adding a name to an online petition, donating a twitter or facebook status. You’ve probably seen your friends or followers do it and may occasionally have wondered how much help it actually was to a cause. The answer – all too frequently is not much.
This is because whilst e-campaigning is a relatively new and shiny way to attract supporters and ask them to take action – for the action to be meaningful it needs to fulfil far more basic criteria for a good campaign. The campaign needs to have a purpose, tell a story, be relevant and ask for achievable change. E-campaigning is a means to an end, rather than a means itself.
This isn’t to say some of the most used forms of e-campaigning are not worthwhile. They are. For example, online petitions can shine a spotlight on an issue. Most recently a wide range of organisations came together to mobilise support on the Save Our Forests campaign. Half a million people signed the petition – but it was successful as it was part of a wider campaign. The Action Centre offers a wide range of extra tools, from posters to letters to MP’s. But the campaigns success was bedded in the story it told. The road user charging petition had success for similar reasons, it told a story and was one that people could relate to. The ongoing challenge for campaigns like this is to build a lasting relationship with their supporters. How many of those against road user charging are continuing to campaign on transport or motor issues?
For every Save Our Forests or Road User pricing, there are more petitions that are unsuccessful. Taking a look at the Downing Street petition website shows how many are likely to come to fruition. This of course applies to offline petitions as well. Petitions have long been a way of highlighting support for an issue or a cause – and can engage people who are normally more distant from the democratic process. As the report of the Public Petitions Committee in the Assembly shows. The limitations of petitions are neatly summed up by Lord German’s view of the petitions committee, “that is it is a spotlight, not a solutions committee”.
The danger is that people use petitions, or e-campaigning as a solution not a spotlight or a tool for achieving change. The risks associated with that are amplified when working with people who are historically more distant from the democratic process. By raising expectations that a petition, or new avatar, or facebook status can change the world on its own campaigners make a rod for their own back. However, don’t offer them and you may miss out on people who want to engage. Gladwell suggests that the sit ins of the 1950’s and 60’s would never happen now as people would take to e-campaigning instead. The most recent example of the UK Uncut (and its US equivalent) show that sit ins do still happen, they just don’t appeal to a wider group of supporters when not well integrated or suffering from the odd strategic blunder.
Used carefully, e campaigning offers a tool to engage more people in our democratic process. But without care we will build an army of clicktivists, where slack activism fails to lead to change, and people in turn lose faith in their ability to achieve change. As we widen the scope of our campaigning infrastructure in Wales we need to guard against that approach developing.
“IF POLITICS is showbusiness for ugly people, then online politics is a dating site for the socially inadequate.” This was how Daran Hill branded anyone reading Wales Home prior to the General Election.
Predictions about the role of social media in this campaign varied from Daran’s own reasonably moderate assessment to suggestions this would be the Twitter election, with camera phone mightier than the sword. The election was marked by a more common form of campaigning. Define your message, identify your target market, and then communicate with them.
The internet has grown so wide that having a website has long been essential for any candidate with even the vaguest ambitions. The fact that one of Wales’ political parties didn’t have its own site until the start of the campaign (unreported by the mainstream press), shows the big gaps can go largely unnoticed. At least, as long as it doesn’t matter to your target voters.
That glitch aside, though, we’ve seen all parties move to where their target voters are. Facebook has joined the web as a whole as an essential place to have a presence, although people seem split between the use of profiles, fan pages and groups. They aren’t alone in that – it’s not like charities have got their heads around it, either.
Many of us reading this will also be users of Twitter. It’s hard to get stats for the UK, but the most recent analysis suggests that users are generally likely to be based in London, under 35 and of a left-liberal leaning. Exactly the group that is distrustful of Labour and moving away. The Tories and Lib Dems have both made a play for their vote and it is the latter that seem to have won out. Helped by an alienation from the Tories that already existed and an attempted monstering from the right wing press, Twitter responded by rallying to Nick Clegg. What monitoring tools there are don’t always get irony, meaning the #nickcleggsfault hashtag tended to show up as a negative mention.
Twitter’s influence in Wales is harder still to measure. Mediawales fed some tweets directly into its coveritlivecoverage of the leaders debates. There were also cases of candidates responding to inaccuracies in newspapers via Twitter – in effect using it as a way to brief supporters and stunt potential opposition attempts to attack them. Although blatant attempts to rig polls are normally found out.
Like political parties, charities and lobbying organisations have certainly identified their target markets. The likes of Advocacy Online have acted as a facility to co-ordinate online lobbying leaving candidates with thousands of emails to respond too. Many campaigning organisations have asked their supporters to ask local candidates to back a pledge. Working with the likes of 38 degrees, this may be the beginning of an army of online progressive activists. With belts being tightened on public spending, politicians should get ready to react to this. It may yet be the biggest internet outcome from the election.
It is from this organising of activists perspective that the internet may have revolutionised things. Parties have been smart at setting up groups of supportive target voters and reminding them to join the electoral register. If you aren’t in one of those groups, a bit like if you aren’t in a marginal seat, much of this activity will have passed people by. Additionally it will be the closed groups, only open to core campaigners that marshal them around the country to key seats that will have been useful. The Conservatives iphone app (Data protection issues aside) gave activists the opportunity to live update information as they canvassed. This built on the tele-canvassing operations and co-ordinations already used by other parties.
In 2007, political blogs flourished in Wales. By marked contrast 2010 has failed to see political blogs, especially Welsh ones, gain the same traction. Maybe if there is a hung Parliament, as 2007 saw in the Assembly, they will once again come into their own. It’s not a new idea that blogs can fill a vacuum left by mainstream news, but the evidence would seem to suggest that is right. As the broadcast and print media have broken stories, blogs have been found wanting. Maybe all the activists who run them decided that their time was better spent on the doorstep – who those target audiences are more likely to be found.
No amount of social media activity will replace the basics of a good campaign: a good message, good targeting and good communication.
This is an updated blog post that first appeared onWalesHome