How to Win Campaigns – Communications for Change
Chris Rose, Earthscan, London, September 2010, 2nd Edition, 400 pages, ISBN 9781849711142
This is not an academic textbook but a brilliant how-to guide written by one of the world's most successful environmental campaigners, who among others, led the Greenpeace campaign which blocked the dumping of the Brent Spar oil platform in the North Atlantic. The author has 20 years of experience acquired working for other global NGOs such as WWF International and Friends of the Earth. This second edition includes the latest 'new media' platforms and techniques and new case studies up to 2010, including the Obama campaign.
Environmentalists do realize that campaigning is an 'expression of popular democracy' but few in the ecological movement perceive campaigning for ecological and social issues as a full-time professional endeavour, but rather as a soft option, or as the last stage once the scientific issues are clear. This book, which as the author admits, is not science, but rather 'a collection of guidelines arrived at by trial and error', and a collection of 'campaign tools that have a track record', will help them think differently.
The author argues, perhaps contrary to common wisdom and practice, that rather than changing public perception, ecological campaigns should focus on doing one thing: Winning! In the same vein, we learn that 'press releases should be understood by a 14-year old'. Fittingly the author uses plain English, sparing us both industry and academic jargon. It discusses best practices as well as common errors, including a few made by the author – always an indication of quality in a manual.
There are many informative diagrams, figures and case studies in info-boxes and detailed end notes, including website references for more reading, and plenty of entertaining anecdotal evidence such as the idea of the South African Tourism Authorities to offer fam trips to 'inveterate professional gossips' aka London Cab Drivers working the route to London Heathrow, who carry frequent-fliers.
A sample of important points and tips: pictures are powerful however very few use them effectively in campaigns; it is better to avoid delaying a campaign to determine an issue in detail, and move ahead so that the issue reveals itself; providing a feasible alternative solution; doing what works for the target audience; paying attention to details, prejudice and sensitivities; linking campaigns to enjoyable things like food and music; encouraging all campaign ideas at first no matter how wacky they may sound; collecting your own information and evidence rather than relying on material already published by others and other time-tested guidelines on how to work with the media.Due to the breadth and depth of the discussion the book is of broader use beyond campaigning, and can help improve one's communication skills. Above all, the book offers memorable, practical and useable campaign templates, winning over the reader, and doing justice to the title. This is a great manual for campaigners of all types including genuine ecotourism practitioners.
The Author admits that "campaigning is not always a particularly polite or noble business" and that some of the techniques analysed "were developed for the darker arts of politics, war or commerce"! Chris Rose equates campaigning to waging war, with allies and enemies. But he agrees, and readers will be compelled to agree too, with "those who ask: 'Why should the devil have all the best tunes?'. The only problem is that the eco 'devils' will also definitely buy this book...