Best advocacy videos

This is lazy summer blog posting, but I’ve been meaning for ages (about 6 months) to share a link to this blog post by my friend Nick, who had a go at listing some of the best advocacy campaign ads. In the end he settled on;

Robin Hood Tax – The Banker
TH!NK campaign – kill your speed or live with it
Plane Stupid – Polar Bears

At the time I commented that I thought that the Make Poverty History ‘Click Ad’ should get an honourable mention in dispatches – http://www.makepovertyhistory.org/video/

In some ways it was one of the first ‘big’ advocacy campaign videos that was trying to reach and engage new audiences by bringing together big name celebs. The concept was simple but powerful, and it was repeated around the world.

If it’d come along a few years later, when more people we’re creating films rather than simply viewing things online (you’d never need to post a link to a 56K dial up video today) it would have spawn lots of imitations. Amazing how much digital media has changed the way we campaign in just 5 years.


I’d also include ‘Time to Collect’ which was produced by Christian Aid, during the Jubilee 2000 campaign. It was banned from being shown at the time for ‘being too political’. At the time of course, the row meant more people heard about it than would have seen it, a nice tactic for a cash-strapped NGO.

And now I’d also add in a mention of the Nestle KitKat Palm Oil ad (which didn’t exist back when the original post was written.

What do you think?

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Love and hate – a contrast in approaches to climate campaigns in the UK and US

Justin Roswlatt, BBC’s Newsnights ‘Ethical Man’ had an excellent piece on last nights programme about the new approach that the Obama administration is taking to win over environmental activists.

It’s fascintating to see how the administration is reaching out to these radical students to get them to be ambassadors in their communities. One can only imagine how excited the activists must feel after spending so many years in the wilderness under the Bush presidency.

The slot started with an interview with Ed Miliband, the UK Climate Change minister discussing the way that the police have been violating the rights of UK activists in the last few weeks (although some would argue that it shows that the movement is making an impact because it’s attracting attention).

Miliband once against affirmed the right to protest at being at the heart of our democratic rights and talked about the importance of creating a ‘Make Poverty History’ like movement on the issue. It might be needed but the movement won’t grow if the supporters of organisations like Christian Aid get hastled by the police at campaign events.

Top tips for dealing with the media

Campaigners often have press officers and media teams to deal with enquiries from journalists, but that shouldn’t be used as an excuse for not learning more about what a journalist is looking for, or what might make a good story.

This top tips paper from nfp Synergy which is full of quotes from its Charity Media Monitor is full of useful advise which has come directly from journalists from the major newspapers and broadcasters.

10 top tips for charities from journalists

Tip 1: Case studies, case studies, case studies
Tip 2: Don’t just target the newsdesk – dig deeper
Tip 3: ‘No comment’ doesn’t mean ‘no story’
Tip 4: Be available, prepared and professional
Tip 5: Think globally, act locally – use local media
Tip 6: Build relationships – meet people face to face
Tip 7: Think carefully about your subject lines
Tip 8: Email your press releases – but phone with your exclusives
Tip 9: Know your targeted media inside out
Tip 10: Find out the other side of the story: media training and more

To get more like this, I’d recommend you sign up for their free monthly e-newsletter which is often full of useful information and tips.

The death of the local paper

Should campaigners be concerned at the rapid death of local newspapers?

As the Guardian reported on Monday many titles are looking to make significant cuts as sales of their publications fall and advertising starts to dry up. While most of the big regional titles don’t appear to be at risk of closing in the near future, they’re facing a bleak future.

Living in London its easy to overlook the importance and reach of many of the regional papers,  some like the Yorkshire Post, Eastern Daily Mail, Manchester Evening News and the Kent Messenger have impressive circulation figures. While weekly titles and the free papers that are delivered through letter boxes are read by millions more. While campaigns are often disappointed when they register little or no national media coverage, acres of local and regional coverage could reach as many people.

Local papers are also trusted source of news and information. I’ve heard of surveys that indicate that the letters page of a local paper is the most trusted section of any paper, because they are seen to speak for a community in the way other news sources can’t.  Moreover for many MPs local papers provide an important way of communicating with constituents, as well as acting as a barometer for local opinion. MPs might not have time to read all the national papers, but you can be sure that their likely to at least browse the pages of their local paper, which means they’re vital places to be trying to place our campaign messages.

So we should be concerned about the potential death of local newspapers. In the short-term, a reduction in the number of journalists might even be good news for campaigns, as those who remain will increasingly be looking for the easy win that lightly rewriting a campaign press release provides.

Over time some will evolve looking to place more of the emphasis on digital media, but the decline of the local paper from our newsagents shelves means the death of powerful tool in our campaigning toolkit.

UPDATED – This article from Labour List argues losinig local papers means a loss of local democracy