Through our advocacy, advisory and coaching services, we work with impact-oriented partners to invent the future of learning. This post is part of a blog series designed to share lessons learned, case studies, and thought leadership from our projects and campaigns. To learn more about our services division, visit GettingSmartServices.com.
Are you ready to make an impact? Whether it is an idea that you want to explore further, a topic you want to share with the world or a question you want to ask, designing campaigns can be a critical component to growing your impact. For some, the end goal is brand advancement for others, it is further developing and sharing information on emerging ideas and trends. But for all, campaigns are a path toward strategic outreach, collaboration and information gathering.
As a team, we view campaigns as an aligned effort of core messages distributed through content development, events and promotion around a central idea or initiative. Unlike political campaigns, they are not meant to be overly promotional, partisan or polarizing. Thought leadership campaigns are a great way to build thoughtful and well-connected content. They can act as a catalyst to scaled impact through increased engagement and clear messaging. Thinking about them strategically allows you to maximize impact and increase the reach of your message.
Here are ten things we have learned from designing, implementing and promoting thought leadership campaigns with our partners:
- Goals First. Before you develop content, give ample thought to the purpose behind the work. What is it that you are trying to accomplish? How will you know if you have met these goals? What is the action you hope your audience will take?
- Know Your Audience. In order to effectively engage your audience, you need to put the energy behind defining who they are. Depending on the length and scale of the campaign, this could be as basic as identifying a key market or as comprehensive as developing personas.
- Vary Your Content Type, Connect Your Message. After you have defined your audience, think about what it is that you want to tell them. Campaigns are more than just blog series. Present information in a variety of modalities, from podcast to social media, publications to video. Keep the messaging aligned, but get creative on the information source and medium.
- Don’t Just Tell, Explore. Campaigns can be a format for sharing what you know, but they are just as effective as tools to better understand what you don’t know. Ask questions, listen and learn!
- Build Anticipation. Making goals and timelines public can do two things: they can act as an accountability system, but they can also build anticipation and a loyal audience that follows the campaign consistently rather than just dropping in once.
- Crowd Source. It is one thing to share content that has been developed behind the scenes, it is another to engage your audience in content development. Ask for guest submissions, create a survey, host a Twitter Chat. Make the barrier to sharing thoughts low and available.
- Connect with Experts. Campaigns that highlight and share a variety of expert voices have more credibility. Find people and voices who will align to your goals and ask them to contribute in manageable ways.
- Make it Easy to Share. Your campaign should be easy to share. A unique hashtag, a landing page and suggested social media are all great ways for people to get engaged and help extend your impact. No matter how great your content is, without a solid sharing strategy you are losing out on potential reach. Connect hashtags to your goals. Are you looking for a way to organize engagement, then think about a dedicated hashtag. More interested in connecting to existing conversations? Think about using hashtags that are already in play. Sharing can extend beyond social media as well–think about how you can utilize content in a variety of ways. Could you create a visual of a contributing tweet, using a tool like Canva? What about blowing up an infographic to act as a banner at a regional conference?
- Don’t Go at it Alone. Look for partners that have existing audiences that are relevant and aligned. For example, our partners appreciate the value that comes from connecting to the existing GettingSmart.com audience of innovative educators and school leaders.
- Do Something. As your campaign ends, make sure you have plans for how the lessons learned will be implemented and shared with key stakeholders who would benefit from this knowledge. Think about how the campaign will be archived for future use and how people can continue to contribute and share. Are there sessions to lead at upcoming conferences? Is there a workshop your team can facilitate? Don’t let good ideas die when a campaign ends.
How do you develop an idea? How do you build greater awareness while also learning more? How do you develop thought leadership? How do you share your passion and get people talking about a specific topic? Campaigns are a great place to start.
And, if you’re interested in developing a campaign but need support, we can help! Getting Smart Services helps impact organizations design, develop and execute communication and thought leadership campaigns. For examples check out: It’s A Project Based World and Power of Place. To learn more about how we can help turn your ideas into impact, head to GettingSmartServices.com
For more from our #SmartWork series, check out:
- Imagining the Future: How Innovative Districts Are Looking Ahead
- You’re Planning Process Signals What’s Important
- Getting Smart on Social Media
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