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News and comment

15 April 2020

Five steps to building a grassroots movement

1. Have a clear purpose

Your campaign’s purpose is the change you want to see; it’s the core desire from which you grow your campaign; it needs to unify and motivate everyone involved. Keep your purpose simple – can you sum it up in a sentence? In five words or less? Is it energizing, active, emotive?

2. Involve others

If you feel strongly about something and want to change it, chances are someone else will too. Identify key people who share your sense of purpose and with whom you can develop a crack campaign team. Build alliances with partners/other parts of your community who share your vision and will help you achieve your mission.

3. Create a strategy

From your purpose and your key people comes your strategy. Together, you define and agree campaign aims and priorities. Alongside this, develop a communications strategy that supports the campaign, identifying key messages, targets and audiences.

4. Build a tactical plan

Don’t confuse tactics with strategy (it’s easily done – people get excited about tactics in a way they generally don’t about strategy!). Tactics are the means by which to deliver your campaign aims and ultimately achieve your purpose. Tactics involve action: to engage and grow audiences; grab media attention, trigger social media activity; change people’s minds; change their thoughts/feelings/behaviour. Tactics involve timing: a calendar of campaign messaging and events, taking into account events and media activity in the wider social and political landscape.

5. Ready to launch?

Your launch has one objective: to start growing a grassroots movement. Plan an event to attract people and media, one that will spread the word about your campaign. As with every event and message from this point on, include a call to action.

A final thought – are points 4 and 5 interchangeable? Consider whether to launch without a tactical plan. Launches that are designed to develop a tactical plan genuinely involve everyone from the word go, spark and energise a grassroots base, tap into a wider pool of creativity and uncover many different areas of expertise. Inverting received wisdom and doing something the wrong way round is exciting, so exciting it deserves a quick blog of its own!