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What “Moves the Needle”

January 20, 2017

Speedometer Needle

What works to get people more involved with, invested in, and activated around an issue? ProSocial CEO Meredith Blake shares some guiding principles and lessons learned.

Great media drives attention, but strategy drives deep change.
The documentary and dramatic content getting produced today is truly extraordinary. But you can’t assume either that “if you build it, they will come” or that just because audiences are moved by great content, social change will happen. You need a plan to capture and harness attention for as much impact as possible. Identifying the levers that need to move and developing a plan to motivate your audience to help move those levers makes all the difference.

Look out for and leverage the unexpected.
A target audience is a mass group, but you want to know who the individuals are. You want to talk to people in the audiences you’re trying to reach, because they often surprise you with new insights or resources they can bring. Whatever plan you’re pursuing, you can’t predict some of these ideas and opportunities that organically arise, but you can be responsive and incorporate them into your efforts.

What’s the “act” in your activism?
Letters, calls, emails, petitions… they all have a role. Sometimes you need a million signatures, and sometimes you need the right influential person to join you in making the case. Don’t default to what’s familiar or easy or the latest flashy tech platform. Facebook likes are great, but real-world relationships and conversations still drive cultural shifts.

Campaigns live on.
Intractable social issues are seemingly intractable for a reason. When all is said and done, you aren’t necessarily going to be able to make a grandiose claim like your project completely changed the face of feminism in this country or solved climate change. But based on the nature of your campaign, there will still be metrics for measuring your impact. There’s a real value in taking action, structuring your campaign to plant seeds and create ripple effects that will continue to grow, and being part of a continual drumbeat of sharing and spreading these messages.