What is campaigning?

In short, campaigning is an effective way to create change. The change could be an issue that is social, political, environmental, related to service delivery or even personal. Campaigning, and the methods that an effective campaign may employ are a way to influence people that have the power to make the change you would like to see. Campaigns are around us all the time, perhaps you notice the ones that affect your life or the campaigns that make the headlines with interesting or even controversial methods. Campaigns can be small and involve a select number of people locally or large-scale and have a national following.

Campaigning can also be commercial, for example the ‘Dove Campaign for Beauty’ – although the ultimate goal of this campaign is to sell a product, they are ultimately looking to influence a target audience and create sales. Dove will set targets for sales as part of their campaign journey and a similar approach can be used when designing any campaign – small targets lead to an end win.

Campaigning can have influence and create change in almost anything – which is why we are recruiting volunteers from across Scotland to campaign with us.

 Why campaign with SRA?

Campaigning with SRA can help identify and improve issues that are particularly relevant to rural communities. The SRA Manifesto and 2017-19 Action Plan identify many areas of rural life that are disadvantaged in comparison to urban living. Some of the issues you may wish to campaign on are:

  • Poor local transport
  • Poor broadband/mobile provision in rural areas
  • Representation of rural communities in local government/council decisions and power
  • Poor access to health services in your local area
  • Issues around land use

SRA encourage communities and individuals to join us in campaigning, or we can support you to run your own campaign. Some campaigns may be very short-lived and some may run for years.

 What does it campaigning actually entail?

A very basic introduction to campaign planning looks like this:

  1. Identifying an aim – what is it you want to achieve?
  2. Who are you trying to influence and what is it you are saying (provide your evidence)?
  3. Who can you work with/gain support?
  4. What campaign methods are you going to employ?
  5. When are you going to do it?

Some examples of activities you may carry out: writing letter to you MSP/MP/Councillor, lobbying government (if you have the resource), spread your message through local and national media, social media campaigns, petitions, arrange public meetings and publicity stunts are an effective way to raise awareness if your campaign resource allows. New and creative ways of campaigning are developing all the time and it will be choosing what is right and feasible for your campaign.

Milestones are a good way to measure success – campaigning can be a long fought battle and having small achievements along the way can ensure momentum is maintained and motivation kept high. For example, you may set small goals of the number of meetings you hold, the number of leaflets you deliver, the number of press articles achieved etc.

 Campaign example – SRA Campaign for improving digital connectivity in rural areas

In 2015 SRA launched a campaign to highlight the issue of poor broadband service to rural areas. The aim of the campaign was to reduce the gap between rural and urban coverage. SRA and community supporters lobbied the Scottish Government to identify which areas of Scotland would be included in the superfast broadband rollout. The campaign milestone allowed communities to identify other ways of accessing broadband. The main campaign method used was a petition to gather support for lobbying the government and also led to the development of Community Broadband Scotland.

Our next blog will look at campaign methods and how they can be employed in campaigning to achieve the change you want.

Fiona Thompson

Fiona Thompson

Fiona joined the Scottish Rural Action team in February 2017. Fiona has been working in the field of community development for over ten years; with particular focus on adult learning, mental health campaigning and service delivery across Scotland but with particular focus on the Highlands and Islands. Fiona is a resident of Lochaber and has a keen interest in hill running and open water swimming when time allows a break from two small children.

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