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Characteristics of Successful Campaigns


Disciplines > PoliticsPolitical campaigns > Characteristics of Successful Campaigns

Structured communication | Credibility | Aligned climate | Target opinion leaders | Commonplace interesting | Positive messages | Playing to what's there | See also


What makes campaigns successful, be they political or commercial in nature? Here's six common themes that can be found in those that work best.

Structured communication

The communication system of successful campaigns is extremely well managed, with closely targeted listeners who are very well understood. Messages are managed both internally (with their structure and content) and over time (with consistency and developing stories).

There are strict rules about who can say what and any loose cannons in the camp are contained. All messages are reviewed carefully before being released into defined channels.


Successful campaigns first and last establish credibility and a sense of truth and rightness in all that they do. People, products and ideas all seem to be reasonable, feasible, competent, trustworthy, expert and so on. It is easy to accept what is said as fair and difficult to make accusation of lying or deception.

Aligned climate

The message that the campaign is promoting is carefully aligned with popular opinion and the general climate of the day. There is no real attempt to push water uphill. New spins may be put onto messages to make them seem innovative, but no reversals or serious shifts of public opinion are attempted.

Target opinion leaders

Messages are particularly targeted at those people who will credibly repeat them at others. These social leaders, once infected with enthusiasm, will not only become valuable advocates, they will also be listened to by their own large constituency. This 'two-step' process effectively bounces the message off the opinion leader into the mind of the actual targets.

Commonplace interesting

The campaign may take relatively commonplace things, whether it is soap powder or a well-known social issue, and turns them into fascinating issues that capture the imagination and which draw people further in. The issue is talked about with great fascination. Strong values are attached to it. Ordinary people are shown to take great interest in it.

Positive messages

When a message makes you feel bad, you are likely to want to run away from it. On the other hand, messages that make you feel good attract you in as you seek more of those good feelings. Campaigns thus seek to create warmth, happiness and excitement that people find attractive and desirable.

Playing to what's there

Rather than trying to teach people new tricks, the mental models, beliefs and memories of the target audience is mined and cued. Existing ideas and experiences are portrayed to create a sense of comfort and understanding, and only then subtle new spins are added to shift thinking just a little (but just enough).

See also

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