Originally uploaded to flickr by Benjamin Ellis
I spent most of yesterday at a conference by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations – or NCVO – all about campaigns. With such a heavy concentration of campaigners all in one place, I half expected the universe to collapse in on itself.
It was all the first conference I’d been with Twitter all around. Behind the main stage was a screen where people in the audience were tweeting their thoughts on the key issues of the day: such as why the vegans in the room were given chicken for lunch and speculating if any of the party manifesto leads might, just for a change, announce they’re standing on a platform of inequality, hopelessness and injustice? Lots of sarky anarachic comments. All of this behind the speaker’s backs. I felt like a naughty school boy.
But, more seriously, it was great to hear thoughts on campaigns trends for the future and the election. I got lots of ideas from the day which I need to take back to NDCS and have a think about how to put into practice. To pick a few…
Firstly, the need to make campaigns local and have campaigners on the ground, as a means of engaging MPs and prospective parliamentary candidates as we approach the election. But, also, if future Governments go ahead with greater decentralisation with budgets held at a local level, our key campaign targets are going to be decentralised too.
Secondly, the importance of social media. Several speakers spoke about how campaigns had gone from nought to 20,000 followers in weeks via Facebook, Twitter and blogging. There were some admirable examples of how they’d got media attention and putting the Government on the defensive on relatively obscure issues. It means charities have to ‘let go’ in terms of control over messages, etc. but it could result in campaigns have a greater impact.
Thirdly, it’s good to take risks, be provocative and stir up trouble once in a while. That message came from Peter Tatchell, who gave a very impressive and inspiring speech about his life of campaigns. He spoke about how his acts of civil disobedience had been controversial at times, but had always been a last resort and had been shown to be successful in changing long-term attitudes. It got me wondering that maybe I need to think more about taking direct action for deaf children when all reasonable approaches to decision makers don’t seem to be working. To the barricades, comrades?
A fun day out. Any other campaign trends to watch out for or new ways of campaigning to consider that I’ve missed? Leave a comment below to have your say.