5 essentials for successful cause communications

Whether you’re communicating with words, pictures, graphics or video…

1. Start from where the audience is

Don’t lecture people, don’t tell them you’re right and they’re wrong. Always start by first connecting with them by showing or saying something they’ll recognise from their own experience. Outline a problem they can see in their lives, or recognise a need they want fulfilled.

2. Engage emotions

If you want people to do something, you have to engage their emotions. People pay attention to emotional content – telling dry facts doesn’t move anyone to take action or change their behaviour. So your communications need to show and provoke emotion.

3. Show (don’t tell) a good story

It’s an old journalistic adage – ‘show don’t tell’. ‘Show’ by telling the story of the people affected by the problem. The story of your campaign needs to be convincing about this problem and the solution you’re offering, and offer a vision of how your solution will benefit people.

4. Work with values not facts

People do things – support your cause, sign your petition or change their behaviour – because your communications ‘press their buttons’. You press people’s buttons by engaging their values, resonating with the things they care about. This might mean appealing to their need to keep their family safe, their desire for fun and adventure, or for their longing for justice and equality. But different people have different values – what’s important to your target audience?

5. Ask for change

Ask people to be involved, give them a way they can join you and help the cause. If you’re not asking for change or action, you’re just educating.

Brilliant campaign videos

Have a look at these fantastic examples of campaign communications. Think about who the likely target audience is, then consider:

  1. How do these videos start from where the audience is, how do they show something they might recognise and care about?
  2. Do they provoke emotions? How do you think they might make their target audience feel? How many facts do they contain?
  3. Is there a good story?
    • Who’s the hero?
    • Is there an enemy? Who, or what, is it?
    • Is there a quest?
    • Is there a beginning, middle and end?
  4. What values might they engage?
    • The need for safety and security?
    • The desire for success?
    • Ethical feelings of benevolence, caring and justice?
  5. Are they asking for change? What’s the ‘call-to-action’?