Your guide to running a successful campaign

Starting any campaign may seem daunting. That's why we've worked with some of our established Local Groups to develop this toolkit that will take you through the key steps to running a successful campaign.

The toolkit will introduce the whole process - planning, implementing and evaluating.

We hope this toolkit will help you achieve results. If you have any questions or require further advice please email our campaigns team. Happy campaigning!

Living Streets campaigners discussing the Kings Cross gyratory

Step one: What's the problem?


To start, clarify the problem or issue that you're going to campaign on. Think about what you would like to change. By identifying the problem, you will be able to develop a campaign to make that change happen.

Example campaign issues: lack of a particular service in the community; traffic going too fast in your neighbourhood; or pavement parking in your high street.

Change doesn't happen overnight - especially on a large scale. It's wise to start off small, and then if you're successful you can roll the campaign out more widely.

Where's the proof?

If possible collect evidence to support your cause.

This might be from your own local research or from wider sources of supporting evidence.

Local research

Your research method will depend on what you are campaigning for. You could think about:

  • A traffic survey to count the number of vehicles or the average speed of cars on your road;
  • Counting the number of steps to your nearest shop or the number of services available on your high street;
  • Running a questionnaire to show how many other people agree with you.

Supporting evidence

You may find someone else has already done the work for you.

Get the facts straight

Make sure that you fully understand all aspects of the problem or issue, so that your campaign stays credible.

Here are some questions to get you started:

  • What is the issue?
  • What is the cause of the problem?
  • Who is affected and how?
  • Who has the power to make change happen?
  • What change would you like to see?
  • Has something similar happened elsewhere?
  • Who can help you?

Try to answer these questions before moving on to the next stage.

Living Streets staff walking to work with a government minister

Step two: develop a message

Start small and set the aims

Start talking and thinking about solutions to your issue or problem. Your solution should become your campaign aim.

Your aim should be a sentence that summarises what it is that you want to achieve. Be specific and realistic with your aspirations.

Positive messaging with the solution identified will show that your campaign is thoroughly thought-out and focused.

What's your message?

Your campaign message will be influenced by who your target individual/group is and what influences them.

These questions will help get you thinking about messaging:

  • What is the call to action?
  • Is the issue attention grabbing and urgent - does the campaign message reflect this?
  • What motivates your target? How will the change help or affect them?
  • Have your worded the message positively with solutions identified?
  • Is your message backed up by evidence?

Who are your potential allies, and who is the target?

Think about who can make the change happen and who can help your campaign. Who has the power to solve the problem? They will become your target.

Many local campaigns will rely on targeting particular decision makers, individuals or groups. Think about who or what will influence them.

Steps to success

Look at your aim and message and work out the steps that need to be taken to achieve your goals.

These steps become your objectives and they should be simply defined and with a measurable outcome.

Campaigns may evolve and change along the way, but it is sensible to have a set of objectives to be working towards.

Step three: It's all about the people

People power

You will need to decide which groups to target and how you'll communicate with them.


Members of the public

Members of the community may be keen to get involved with your activities and can add weight to your argument.

Focus your efforts on approaching those who are likely to agree and want to be involved in your activities. It is important that you research and understand who these people are, so that you can pitch your message appropriately.

It's also important to remember that your audience may not always be immediately obvious.

The media

Building relationships with the local media will be extremely useful when it comes to publicising your campaign.

Target local newspapers, radio stations and even television programmes to help spread your cause.

Try to build a relationship with local journalists - once a relationship is estabilshed, you may find they come to ask you for updates and give your work a great deal of coverage.

You may also want to consider finding out if there are any issues similar to yours in your area that the media are currently interested in.

Decision makers and opinion formers

Decision makers will often be local councillors or council officials.

Consider inviting key officials to meetings or arrange a one to one discussion or a phone conversation with them. Remember when speaking to these people to always maintain a positive relationship, while being clear about the problem and why it's important.

Always offer solutions to the problems you've identified and try not to focus too heavily on the negatives.

Even if they are not warm or receptive to your campaign, they are the people who will ultimately make decisions so it is important to develop a positive relationship with them.

Here are some websites that will help you to identify your local councillor or MP:

Next you can look at who influences your decision maker. It could be their constituents, the media, businesses, other councillors or other campaign groups. You can then approach these groups or individuals to strengthen your campaign.

Other organisations

There may be other groups or organisations with similar interests or those who influence your key target.

It is worth finding out who these people are as they can often offer good advice or may want to get involved themselves. Before collaborating with another group, consider these questions:

  • Do you share a common vision?
  • What resources can they provide you with?
  • Do they have any similar experience?
  • Do they have time to commit to your campaign?

Step four: take action

Making a splash

Now you should be ready to organise a programme of activity and to roll out your campaign.

The methods you choose will depend on who you are trying to influence and the problem you are addressing.


A well written letter with many supporting signatures from local voters is an invaluable method of demonstrating support for your cause.

You should have identified who the key decision maker is earlier in the process, and may even have opened a dialogue with them. They are the people you should be targeting with letters. Template letters to councillors that people can sign easily at a stall or on a website make it easier for people to take part.

Once you've amassed a large number of letters or signatures, consider putting out a press release announcing that you will be presenting them to the local authority.

Local support

You can gain support from the community by holding events and meetings, and also through social media.

How to get the word out:

  • Hold an event;
  • Run a stall at a local event;
  • Organise a meeting.

If you decide to do this, consider having some 'take home' information for interested individuals. This should contain your campaign message, information on how to get involved, and details of your planned campaigning activities.

Please make sure any materials follow Living Streets guidelines.

Social media is a great way to keep followers updated about your progress. You could write a blog, start a Facebook group or post updates on Twitter.

Step five: evaluation

Looking back

Reflect on what has worked, and what hasn't worked so well.

Consider these questions as a starting point:

  • How many of your objectives have been met, and what still needs to be done?
  • Where have your successes come from?
  • Has promotional work been successful?
  • What tactics are not working?
  • Who still needs to be convinced?

To have the greatest impact, it is important to reflect on and evaluate your campaign. Try doing this throughout the process.

If you keep assessing yourself you can build up your knowledge of decision-making structures and how best to influence them.

You can also identify activities that have worked and those that haven't, and adjust your plans accordingly.

And finally, something to remember...

Some campaigns can continue for years, so don't be disheartened if results aren't immediate.

If your campaign is successful and you achieve your ultimate aim, evaluation is still useful as you can always learn from your experiences and take those lessons on to your next campaign.