- There Are No Conspiracies
The longer I work I realise there are no conspiracies, just one side is better organised, with simple plans that are well executed, facing off against others who embrace chaos as a strategy and internal dialogue as action. This is how David beats Goliath.
2. Have A Map at Hand
It is going to be hard to get to where you want you to be without a map or a GPS system (for me at least). You’d be foolhardy to travel 4000 miles without having planned out the journey in advance and having the right directions. Yet, all too often when groups and people are trying to influence a piece of law they start off and continue without knowing the likely journey and the process for adopting that piece of law. However, many people have found some generic map that gets you from A to Z for all journeys. If you find that map, please send me a copy.
3. Have a Guide Who Knows Where They Are Going and Knows How To Get Back
And, you would be considered very brave to go on trek into the wilderness, climbing a hazardous mountain range, or sailing across the Atlantic Ocean without a very experienced guide. People may think you are suicidal.
You would usually hire a guide to get you there and back. You’d expect that your guide had gone on the same journey many times back and forth successfully before they had become a guide. You would not think that a guide would have learned just from books and online courses and they were in fact taking you out on your first trip. Whilst you may live to tell the tale, and that is a big if, it’s not a journey you’ll have positive memories about.
4. Have a Live Marketing Sales List
People buy marketing lead lists because they are likely to be targeting the people who are going to buy the product they are selling. Random sales pitches may work but focusing on the real buyers is a smarter idea.
Not knowing in advance who the core of your market is very brave. Too many campaigns start out in advance not knowing who in each country will make or influence the decision they want to change. There is an easy way to know, ask them for a copy of the list of key contacts (along with a copy of the usually not-existent plan).
It is not hard to prepare. I have found on EU decisions, it is about 200 men and women across 28 Member States and Brussels who will decide on your given issue. If you have no idea who most of them are in advance, your chances of getting to them are slight. You may get lucky and stumble across them in a bar one evening (which I have done) but the bar bill and hangover the next morning does not make it a long term strategy.
5. Speak the Language of Your Market
People may be confused if you ran an ad campaign in Irish on the British mainland. You’d be narrowing down your target market who’d understand anything you were saying to a very few people. It may raise some curious interest, and the Gaelic speakers of Wales and Scotland, and the Irish language fraternity of Kilburn, would be interested. But, you’d likely be missing out on 99% of your audience.
For some reason, which after 25 years I still have not understood, many campaigners in NGOs and Industry are convinced that the public and decision makers, whether they are officials or politicians, are equally interested/obsessed about their pet issues as they are. Campaigners go full on writing or talking about the issue as if the equations, technical Phd jargon, and sound science language is commonly used and understood and officials and politicians, who are disproportionately lawyers, economists (for officials) , or political activists, teachers and lawyers (for politicians) care and understand about this.
I clearly had a nasty bump on the head as a child either player rugby or having some rubble fall on my head after a bomb explosion in N.Ireland. I discovered that very few people saw, let alone cared, the world from my perspective. The next global meeting of free trade personalist social democrats is at the Ritz red phone box on 23 June 2016. Standing Room only.
I found out that the only way to get other people to be interested in the issue I was campaigning about was to pitch it to them in a way that resonated with them. You can either talk about bushmeat in terms of gorilla conservation or you may want to add in the threat of ebola coming into Heathrow to the Sunday Times. You can talk about fish stock conservation or billions in subsidies to an unprofitable industry to free trade politicians.
That’s not to say you’ll not find that there are some key people you need to persuade that are not passionate about conservation. An unexpected ally once came in the form of a Commissioner who sent his Spanish Cabinet official (it seems Cabinet officials dealing with fisheries are often Spanish for some reason) with instructions that they fully backed WWF/Greenpeace’s work on Blue Fin Tuna conservation and would be supporting the issue. The Spanish official was clearly not very happy. I have even met officials with post-doc work in chemistry who wanted to talk about the science on a substance ban. But, if you go in expecting that that is usual you are going to be disappointed.