In my last post, I considered 2 levels of campaigning in public affairs:
- Campaigning as a necessity when an issue is politicised and on the public radar
- Campaigning on a non-politicised issue to gain an early advantage
As ever, I was guilty of over-simplifying. I implied that an organisation that campaigns as a necessity due to issue politicisation is on the wrong side of the public debate and needs to reframe it (e.g. sugar or GMO, say). And that an organisation that campaigns to gain an advantage on a non-politicised issue will invariably be on the right side of the public debate (e.g. fish discards).
There are further nuances to consider:
- An organisation that campaigns on an issue that is heavily politicised can clearly also be on the “right” side of the public debate (e.g. anti-fracking campaigners; indeed, most activists).
- An organisation that seeks to gain an advantage on a non-politicised issue will not necessarily be on the right side of the public debate (once debate ensues). Indeed, forward-thinking organisations that know they’ll face a backlash should seek to gain an advantage by framing their issue before it is on the radar.
In summary, a checklist for anyone considering PA campaigning:
Organisations scoring 2 or 3 in the left-hand column will likely have to run a resource-intensive, multi-market, multi-discipline campaign. Conversely, with 2 or 3 in the right hand column, a smaller, single constituency campaign might work. It’s never easy though.