Successful Strategic Activism 103: How to Plan a Campaign

Once a priority issue is identified, the success of your campaign will largely depend on how well you plan. Your campaign plan can vary dramatically in complexity (i.e. local or state campaigns are going to be less complex than a national/Federal campaign), but should definitely include a number of key sections.

A solid campaign plan can be divided into two parts including 1) Purpose and Goals, and 2) Strategic Assumptions. In these two parts, your plan should attempt to give as much detail as possible to the topics that will inform your decision-making as you implement your campaign. Within these two parts of your plan, you'll also want to include key sections that clearly describe the problem and why a strategic activism campaign is the right solution, along with specifics on current levels of political support, public opinion, allies and opponents, as well as strategic strengths and weaknesses.

A strong, functional coalition is often at the heart of a successful strategic activism campaign. Spend time understanding the advocacy landscape on your issue and incorporate coalition building into your plan.

Campaign Planning Do’s and Don’ts

1. Get people on board early.

  • Do build a strong interdisciplinary team, including management, and secure early input and buy-in for your plan
  • Don’t wait until the campaign plan is finished to secure input from coalition partners and managers

Best Practice Example

When creating a campaign plan on climate change resiliency, an electric vehicle company recognized that they would need a significant amount of support from their marketing and communications team. So, they engaged key team members at the beginning of the planning process to make sure the tasks and timeline worked for them. 

2. Do your due diligence on the issue. 

  • Do consider who your supporters and opponents will be and how they could impact your brand
  • Don’t wait until after their is public scrutiny of your activism to develop a response strategy

Best Practice Example

A sustainable business association recognized that there was a need for strong business voices in support of raising the minimum wage. However, the association knew that there would be vocal opposition to their support for such a measure. In anticipation of their opponents negative messaging on the issue and organization, the association created a detailed outreach and communications strategy as part of their campaign plan. Elements of the communications strategy helped neutralize the negative messaging and protected the business association's reputation.

3. Set clear expectations about success.

  • Do identify measures of success for your campaign that address both internal and external objectives and set realistic goals for those metrics
  • Don’t set metrics that fail to show value to decision makers in your organization

Best Practice Example

A clean cosmetics company uses metrics related to new customer acquisition, brand reputation, and customer engagement to measure success on their strategic activism campaigns.

We can help support your campaign planning efforts

Planning your first campaign is an exciting and rewarding process for your staff. It's where things start to feel real and it's a great collaborative and team-building opportunity focused on a purpose and impact. But, it can be complicated to know exactly what topics to address and how to manage the process in an efficient and productive way. Colin Price Consulting has experience planning campaigns for a wide variety of organizations. Let us guide you. 

A future post will dig in to the next step in successful strategic activism campaigns: Implementation