Videos, photographs, documentaries, art, music, and books hold powerful messages having the potential to aid in transforming individuals and communities.
Yet, to influence audiences, creators — filmmakers, photographers, artists, authors, organizations, non-profits, activists, and cause marketers — need to go beyond just creating projects.
To make an impact through media, it’s essential to develop powerful, strategic audience engagement campaigns that will take your messages beyond the confines of homes and computer screens, to become vital tools for raising awareness and social change.
These campaigns must have clear goals: to motivate communities and audiences to take specific actions to create change.
For instance, the producers of the documentary Food, Inc, a film directed by Emmy-award-winning filmmaker Robert Kenner, about the unflattering look inside America’s corporate controlled food industry, wanted to raise awareness about the U.S food system and how it impacts individuals and communities. Just a small part of their audience engagement strategy included bringing the film to communities with limited healthy food options, and where obesity rates are high. One of their goals was to educate about healthier food options (such as finding local organic farms and buying those foods), and to challenge audiences to read labels listing ingredients in the foods from corporate controlled food products.
The producer’s overall film marketing, publicity and outreach strategy, including screenings throughout the country, garnered a good deal of media coverage. Their outreach captured the attention of such healthy food companies as yogurt makers, Stonyfield Farm, who went on to promote the film on the foil lids of 10 million of their yogurt cups.
Outreach campaigns have the potential to generate massive publicity.
Engagement campaigns can include multi-platforms including: film screenings and panel discussions, community events, interactive web videos, social media and exhibits, or symbolic strategy campaigns such as the (phenomenal) breast cancer awareness Pink Ribbon campaign.
Some documentary and videos campaigns can focus on engaging audience to help change laws; filmmakers can schedule VIP screenings and panel discussions at State Houses, inviting lawmakers and policy makers. They can also create screening tours by inviting community leaders to host screenings across the nation, offering audiences resources to sign petitions and action steps for encouraging lawmakers to take specific actions toward justice.
These are just a few of the many ways media can make a difference. Don’t be afraid to dream and create a unique audience engagement campaign for your project.
Here’s a step-by-step outline to help you begin creating your strategic audience engagement campaign:
1. Define the goal of your outreach campaign for raising awareness and creating sustainable change within your targeted audience and community. Limit it to one or two sentences.
2. What specific action(s) do you what your audience to take?
3. Decide what platform would be best for your message. Film Screenings/Panel Discussion?
4. Media creators must build collaborative partnerships with key influencers and leading organizations on a national and/or community level (depending on the scope of your project’s goals). Write a list of all the contacts to build your partnerships.
These key organizations and influencers need enhance your message, providing valuable resources for your audiences. Concurrently, your media project enhances their message and mission. Both organizations agree to support one another in your mutual efforts of raising awareness and creating change.
For instance, just a glimpse at benefits of Big Voice Pictures partnering with like-minded groups: part of our outreach involved partnering with State Coalitions working toward child sexual abuse prevention and supporting those abused in childhood. We partner with community crisis centers and organizations, MaleSurvivor, 1in6, Inc., The Men’s Project (Canada), and several other organizations internationally. Together we brought (and continue to bring) Boys and Men Healing into communities with panel discussions. We’ve provided much needed resources for service providers and men sexually abused as boys including: launching much needed male survivor support groups, offering (male abuse survivor specific) trainings to service providers, and bringing inspirational, healing events to communities for men sexually abused as boys. You can learn more about our outreach work and some of our partner organizations, here.
6. Create Outreach Audience Engagement Kits and Film Screening Kits. This includes
Posters, post cards, flyers, press Releases. (can be downloadable)
7. Create mutual strategies for e-blasts, web posting, sending press releases to press lists. Many issue oriented campaigns maximize social media such as the use of hashtag campaigns such as #OccupyWallStreet and #BringBackOurGirls, to engage communities.
8. Create a timeline. This should be a week by week schedule of detailed tasks.
If you’re interested in additional thought-provoking information on creating media campaigns visit:
I hope this was helpful and inspiring. We’d love to hear about your campaign idea, or how we can help you create one! Contact us if you have any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.