We asked members what our next campaign should be… and you came up with some challenging and powerful ideas.
Our latest members’ meeting was very close to home: at the PRSC on Stokes Croft, just downstairs from where the Cable office is based. After catching everyone up on developments over the summer and introducing our new Community Media Coordinator, Mark Sennett, we got down to business: working out what the next Cable campaign is going to be.
Campaigning journalism is something members voted for at last year’s AGM and we wanted to follow on from the success of our Boot Out Bailiffs campaign, focusing on the issues that you say are key to Bristol.
Like all Cable members’ meetings, it was very hands-on. We went through some of our previous campaigns – like our campaigns for accountability on police surveillance tech and transparency on housing deals – and then looked at some that other publications have run.
In small groups, we considered some of the risks and challenges of campaigning journalism, elements of a good campaign and ideas of potential campaigns.
Risks and challenges of campaigning journalism
It turns out there are quite a few potential pitfalls involved in launching a campaign! Key issues were the difficulty of predicting all possible outcomes, the potential risk of alienating readers by exposing a clear stance on an issue, and working out how high to aim, balancing the winnability of a campaign with its significance.
One group pointed out the importance of protecting whistleblowers and journalists, as well as being aware of risks involving with potentially angering people in high places (something to be aware of, though not something to shy away from). There are also practical issues to take into account: the time and resources a campaign takes.
Finally, one group made the point that we need to consider the impact of an unsuccessful campaign could have on our reputation and credibility.
The key elements of a successful campaign led by the Cable
Once we’d gone through all the things that could go wrong, we took a look at how to make a campaign not go wrong! We got back into our huddles and brainstormed the elements of a good campaign.
A common theme that emerged was presentation: making sure the campaign is accessible, interesting and eye-catching, using a variety of formats – investigations, reports and features, and using powerful personal stories alongside strong research.
A point all the groups agreed on was the importance of engagement and getting the tone right: a successful campaign needs to appeal to our readership and be relevant to Bristol. We need to make sure that stories are interesting while also making a difference and that a campaign is not too abstract or undefined (one group mentioned that we need to make sure it’s ‘SMART’: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound).
Members agreed that it was important to have a clear branding strategy for campaigns, with clear messaging and a variety of voices, and a long-term campaign with more specific campaigns throughout it.
The Cable has something unique to media organisations: 2,000 members. We are our greatest asset. There are so many of us bringing different skills, knowledge and expertise to the table and one group mentioned how powerful tapping into that skillset could be, if done effectively.
We also need to think about linking up with partner organisations and existing groups already working on the issue we want to campaign for. We need to reach individuals and groups we haven’t worked with before and encouragie involvement – but not manage it.
And the outcome we want to work towards? There was a general consensus that a successful campaign needs to target an individual or instutition who has the power to change things, and offer a solution and a clear call to action.
Members agreed that we need to tap into something that people feel strongly about and can do something to make a difference. It was also seen as important to offer a range of ways people can get involved, depending on interest and capacity.
Our next campaign needs to have a strong local connection but resonate nationally and be an issue that will have an impact and hold power to account, making the city a better, fairer place to live. One group suggested that we poll members to find the right topic for the next campaign.
And now to the meat of the issue. We brainstormed specific ideas and issues to campaign for, which the media team will be going through over the next few weeks before coming back to the next members’ meeting in October with a few ideas for you to vote on.
- Introduce a rent cap
- Increase landlord accountability
- Create more emergency housing
- Increase funding and solutions for Bristol’s homeless
- Introduce safe injection rooms
- Provide sharps bins in every park
- Make working conditions safer for NHS staff
- Air pollution
- Bring back public toilets
- Keep our children’s centres open
- Look into global impact of businesses who operate in Bristol: campaign around privately funded developments, eg: the arena being built by a Malaysian company
You can find out more about our monthly members’ meetings – why we have them and what we do during them – here. Do you have an idea for the focus or place of our next members’ meeting? Get in touch below or on: firstname.lastname@example.org.