Relevance in 2020

Thursday, June 4th, 2020

I spend a lot of my time planning integrated campaigns with our clients, and the one thing everyone wants is to be relevant. To be part of the conversation that’s happening right now. And these days, that’s no mean feat. Our moods and conversations are swift, dynamic and transient. Social discourse is increasingly impermanent and hard to grasp, taking place in stories and snaps that are gone within hours or minutes. If you’ve ever seen a murmuration of starlings, shift and turn, I imagine it something like that. Millions of tiny pieces of content, flowing and changing each moment.

This year in particular, this has really hit home. How many months or years of planning were obliterated when the pandemic became the only story? I doubt anyone’s plans for 2020 bear much resemblance to the campaigns and appeals they have live right now. As marketers, we’ve started to realise how hard it is to predict our audiences – to be audience-led, when they keep slipping through our fingers. We create a campaign; gather insight, plan the media, develop the proposition, all to find the conversation’s moved on without us.

Take this week. Just when we thought we understood the media story, had a proposition around coronavirus we were starting to optimise; George Floyd. Overnight, our audiences’ attention and emotional charge has shifted. A vital, brutal conversation is happening that we cannot, should not, ignore.

What do we do, then? Because (and I say this with the greatest love for our dear sector) speed isn’t always our forte. Just doing things faster isn’t always an option. When we don’t know where the minds of our audiences will be from one day to the next, how can we be truly audience led? How can we plan? And how can we do it before the discourse has changed again?

I suggest, three things.

The first is a question to ask yourself repeatedly. Should we be telling this story? Does this campaign come from our most pressing and urgent organisational need? It’s great to be out fast with a relevant message, but get this wrong, and it could backfire horribly. If you don’t have a seat on that bandwagon, don’t jump on it.

The second is to be ready to pivot. It’s hard when we’ve spent months or even years planning activity to have it suddenly on hold. Forcing things through won’t help. If the flock has moved on, try to go with the flow and embrace where they are headed.

The third is the most radical but I think the most potent. If you do have the right story to tell, if, suddenly, the media is behind you, just get out there with something for your audiences to share, support or do. We don’t always need to craft a polished suite of ads to put in front of our audiences. Sometimes all that encourages is a passive action. We can activate them, let them get involved, and ask them to help create and share our campaign.

Platforms like TikTok are designed just for this. We can look to the music industry who are having massive advertising success on the platform, by letting the audience tell the story their way. Your deliverable here isn’t a film, it’s a brief for creators, that gives them the story to tell, the inspiration to get creative.

And you have to trust. They may want to flex your brand guidelines, let them. They might want to give in a different way, let them. This is where earned media and peer to peer lives. This is where viral lives. This is where #nomakeupselfie and Choose Love and Run 5k live. Colonel Tom didn’t have a campaign strategy. But NHS Charities Together told their story in a way that allowed everyone to play their part. There isn’t just one way to support that campaign, there are hundreds. The result is people sharing stories, and doing what they can, for a cause they believe in. Which is, in its purest, loveliest iteration, charity.

You may not end up with the campaign you intended, but if people have taken your story, and found their own way to tell it, share it and support it, isn’t that even better? Isn’t that totally and completely beautiful?

That’s why we’re developing new kinds of campaign strategies, that look beyond paid media and leave the door open for supporters.

If we really want to be relevant, we need to relinquish some control over to the people we are speaking to. They’re not just ‘target audiences’, they can be advocates, makers, dancers, volunteers and billboards if we give them a chance. If you really inspire them, they’ll do more for you, for free, than any paid media ever will. Be brave. Let them.

Amy Hutchings
Strategy DIrector

If you’re ready to let supporters tell your stories and would like to talk about how Open can help you develop a truly relevant campaign strategy, we’d love a chat, just ping us an email.


Laughter, tears, and a whole lot of celebration

Monday, April 27th, 2020

On Tuesday, a group of over 600 fundraisers joined together to celebrate fundraising and share in the love for the sector, for our first ever virtual I Wish I’d Thought Of That (IWITOT) with SOFII. There were some tears, a load of support, a ton of clapping emojis, and even the appearance of goats…

This year’s IWITOT felt even more special than the previous years, as it was held at a time when the charity sector feels very uncertain amidst a crisis that is forcing us all to be apart. That didn’t stop fundraisers from all over the globe getting involved to listen to speakers pitch their favourite fundraising campaigns in a bid to win the IWITOT 2020 title. And what a range of incredible campaigns they were… from Moses and the Tabernacle, to Queer Proms beating bigots; corporate partnerships bringing tears and changing lives; a Blue Peter totaliser childhood memory; goats as attendees at your company Zoom meetings; and a host of other inspiring and interesting fundraising examples. 

With every new speaker that took the virtual stage came an inspiring campaign and a unique take on why it deserved to be crowned the winner. The great talks kept coming, and in what seemed like only a few minutes, all 17 speakers had put on a great show. It was hard to know who was going to win, so we left everyone to cast their votes and waited to see the result. It was a close call, but the winner is:

 

Megan Townshend with her talk on the Choose Love Christmas pop up store!

 

We managed to raise over £15,000 for SOFII so they can keep doing great work for the sector, and are so grateful to everyone who came and joined us, and to all the incredible speakers who took part. A special thanks definitely goes to our 2 fabulous hosts Camille (last year’s IWITOT winner) and Joe (representing SOFII) – who kept things going and even managed outfit changes – it was just like the Oscars! 

As with every year, we’re so happy and proud of IWITOT and all it does, and that it brings everyone together to celebrate success. It is so uplifting, and we’re pretty sure that the virtual part is here to stay – hopefully alongside the live event returning soon! 

 

If you missed IWITOT, you can still catch up and watch the whole show here: https://sofii.org/iwitot/i-wish-id-thought-of-that-london-2020

Please note, you will no longer be able to vote. 


Celebrating fundraisers ‘together’

Wednesday, April 15th, 2020

It’s that time of year when I Wish I’d Thought Of That (IWITOT) returns, to celebrate fundraising excellence and to pitch speakers against each other to present their views on the best fundraising campaigns. IWITOT celebrates all the great stuff out there that our colleagues have done, and supports the sector in continuing to grow and develop – both with ideas and with the much-needed funds it brings in.

And this year we decided to take it virtual, which, as it turns out, was the right decision! We were already excited to try this event on an online platform, as we knew it would bring together a global audience, giving even more perspectives in one ‘room’ and spreading the learnings of the sector much wider. It is the way forward. 

With the new coronavirus restrictions in place, coming together online is now even more important. We need these stories of great fundraising more than ever, and time to celebrate and take stock of the amazing work the sector does. And we can draw inspiration, give ourselves some relief and joy, and remind us all why we work in fundraising. It will also allow us all to feel connected and part of a huge community when we are siloed at home. 

Plus, virtual events in this format stops you being restricted by specific timings – if you’re a bit late, just join when you’re ready and no one will be turning round to see the late comers enter! Or, if something comes up and you can’t attend that day, you will receive a recording to watch back later. Of course, it’s not quite the same as being there in the moment, but it’s a good second option. 

Our hope for the virtual IWITOT remains the same as when we first set out to do it – to bring together fundraisers from across the world to celebrate success and support the sector, and probably to have a few laughs along the way!

IWITOT is taking place on Tuesday 21 April. Join us and a host of fundraisers from across the globe – get your ticket now!