Breakout Session 3: Campaigning to Influence Change

Panellists at Breakout Session 3

This session featured Jamie Drummond (Co-Founder and Executive Director, Global Strategy, ONE), Ivana Bacik (Senator and Seanad Labour Leader) and Martin O’Brien (Founder and Executive Director of the Social Change Initiative), and was chaired by Dil Wickremasinghe (MC, broadcaster and journalist).

It was an engaging and informative discussion, offering valuable insights into how successful campaigns are conducted. Delegates looked at how the most successful campaigns are those that manage to connect the public with the real people behind the issues.

Here are some key takeaways from the discussion:

  • Real stories from the people behind the issues are often missing from campaigns. These stories and voices play an important part in forming connections between the general public and the real people behind the campaigns.

  • Acronyms hide the real people behind campaigns. They replace the people who will actually be served by the campaign with a series of letters, which stops the general public making the kind of connections that are important to the success of a campaign.

  • Successful campaigns empower the public to believe that they can create meaningful change around the 'big issues', but must also present achievable goals with tangible wins.

  • Campaigns for international justice cannot ignore their domestic context. By connecting the domestic with the international context, a campaign can avoid pitting the poor at home against the poor overseas. In turn, this can help to avoid the type of populist swings currently impacting international development programmes across the globe.

  • Campaigns cannot ignore the tension between facts and evidence, and messaging. Although evidence-based cases are important in campaigns, a study in Germany showed that campaigns were more successful if they connected their issue with national values, such as integrity or generosity.

  • Each panellist approached the topic of what makes a successful campaign in a different way:

Martin O’Brien: Goals, Strategy, Messages

  • Goals: from the outset a campaign must have clear goals and clear indicators of success in reaching these goals.

  • Strategy: a successful campaign will have a clear strategy in place about how it will reach its goals.

  • Messages: a campaign must be clear on what exactly its messages are and how they are targeted. It needs an extensive body of research on how the public really feels about the issue in order to do this.

Ivana Bacik: Three Ingredients for Successful Campaigns on Global Justice

  • Connections: a successful campaign needs to connect the real people behind the issue with the general public.

  • Direct Voices: in order to represent the issue in its entirety, a campaign must involve the voices of those behind the issue.

  • Evidence: evidence-based cases provide concrete propositions to campaign on which are more presentable to the general public.

Jamie Drummond: The 5 Ps

  • Policy: campaigns should be based on policies which are evidence-based.

  • Politics: politically bi-partisan campaigns will perform better as they generate a greater base of support.

  • Public: highlighting to the public that the campaign is in their interest will contribute to its success.

  • Pop-culture: celebrities, influencers and other public figures increase the reach of a campaign. By utilising popular culture and modern media tools such as social media, a campaign can reach new audiences and keep the spotlight on the issue in a way that traditional methods cannot.

  • Partnerships: the right partnerships need to be formed in order to amplify the other 4 Ps.