Contacting influential people – whether they’re newspaper editors or MPs – can be a little like walking a tightrope. You know they’re busy people so you don’t want to hassle them unnecessarily; but you really want to engage them with your latest news, ideas, campaign . . .
Here’s some strategies that have worked for me:
- Do your research. Do you know someone who knows them? Perhaps they can give you an insight into the editor’s future scheduling; or an issue that’s keeping the MP awake at night.
- Keep the e-mail short, simple and straight to the point.
- Have these three key sentences ready: an introduction proving that you know something about the person; why you’re contacting them; and what your idea, offer or question is.
- Include your URL in signature. Make it easy for people to contact you.
- Be realistic and generous. Thank them in advance for any help they can offer. If you don’t get a response, don’t take it personally. Follow-up though.
- Write short, descriptive subject lines that give the reader a reason to open up. So you really need to know your audience. What’s important to them at the moment?
If you want to know more:
How to email important people
Best practice in writing email subject lines
Perfect subject lines
Do you have an email tip to share? Please do add a comment; and why not follow me on twitter @businesses4good.
Proud to share 14 group learning outcomes from a recent successful Creative Public Affairs workshop Create Impact: Campaign Training aimed at community groups and smaller charities in Reading.
- Make campaigning a key discussion in your organisation.
- Understand the impact you want to have as a starting point.
- Keep focused on that objective
- Have a good, strong, clear, memorable strap-line (campaign objective).
- Identify your key stakeholders: the high interest, high influence group.
- Be effective. Always use strategies that are minimum effort, maximum impact.
- Have a clear strategy.
- Prioritise. Being over-ambitious means you spread yourself too thinly which leads to being ineffective.
- Speak to and discuss ideas with lots of people.
- Create coalitions: work with other groups who shared concerns and outcomes.
- Don’t lose sight of direct action and ‘old’ off-line techniques. Don’t necessarily expect to rely on technology and social media for the entire campaign
- Be flexible and willing to adapt where necessary.
- There is no one magic solution.
- Remember the key words: impact, outcomes, influence and effectiveness.
Thanks to @GetInvolvedRDG for funding the event and @RISC_Reading for the excellent venue.
Please do comment on your favourite campaign tip; and follow me @businesses4good to find out more about how to campaign effectively and with impact.
Looking forward to running Campaign With Impact Workshop next week on behalf of Get Involved Reading. One of the first challenges we’ll probably face together is to accept that campaigning means different things to different people. This may sound simple but 20 years of colourful, campaign experience has taught me that people tend to believe that it’s one of the three things: fighting a war, raising awareness or having a conversation with people.
All three hold some truth:
- When you’re fighting a war it helps if you’re clear about you objective, strategy and tactics.
- When you’re raising awareness you’re looking outwards and focusing on building alliances.
- When you’re having a conversation with people you’re thinking about how you can effectively influence ideas, behaviours and attitudes.
Some things you might like to look at if you’re interested in how to:
Other posts of mine you might like, if you like this one:
Stakeholder mapping: it sounds scary but it ain’t necessarily so
Oh let me in: social media and policy development
Creating a public affairs strategy/3: What does success look like?
If you’ve found this of use it’d be good to hear from you, perhaps add a comment at end. Please do follow me on twitter @businesses4good. You’ll pick up lots of communication and influencing tips.
Excellent article by Ekow Eshun on the Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei on how to use simple participatory art movement campaign tactics to reach out and connect with “real” people affected by “real” social issues.
- Have a provocative key message. In Ai Weiwei’s Sichuan campaign the allegation was that 1000s of children had died needlessly because of shoddy, building work fuelled by corruption.
- Organise people to get to real people with real lives affected by real social issues. In the Sichuan campaign 200 volunteers went door-to-door to collect information and record the bereaved families’ stories about the children they’d lost.
- Share these stories on blog posts quickly.
Is it art? I think it is because it’s making people see the world differently, making them aware of something that they perhaps hadn’t seen before. Look through the prism at a different angle. Change starts with a change in perception.
“This investigation [Sichuan campaign] will be remembered for generations as the first civil rights activity in China. It directly affects people’s feelings and their living conditions, their freedom and how they look at the world. To me, that is art.” (Ai Weiwei)