I’ve been running for various roles in my university for the last two weeks or so, and I’ve learnt a lot about campaigning, advertisement production and activism.
I always thought campaigning was as simple as making a Facebook page, and to be completely fair, the page proved to get me a serious amount of votes in a very short space of time. Other candidates went above and beyond by making banners and posters to stick around campus, as well as leaflets and handouts to give to people in passing. In contrast, I had printed out no more than 3 posters, spoken to 12 people and made a summative one minute video to post on my page, two days before voting closed. In saying this, the girls that went out handing leaflets out didn’t win either, and I’ve been told that I managed to finish above them all in 2nd place, but my campaign was definitely lacking in some key areas. For those interested, the girl who won didn’t actually campaign at all, but her status as one of the most powerful students in Bristol seemingly gave her an unprecedented number of votes, although I can’t confirm this.
Campaigning is very digital now in this day and age, but the traditional method of handing leaflets out is still the best way to get yourself out there, it seems. This was made clear when my Facebook page seemed to capitulate at 12 likes, while the face of the opposition was popping up in numerous places on my timeline. It’s safe to say that voters are more easily engaged while scrolling through Facebook than they are when running to lectures at nine in the morning, but it’s always good to get your face out there.
During my campaign, I also further developed my video and image production skills. The videos and advertising material can all be found on my Facebook page, where you’ll also see that I only used one page to campaign for all of my positions. I can’t go too much into this because there’s not really much to say, I’m just better at doing it, but my creative mind has definitely bolstered. I made a short video about the current famine and drought over in East Africa, which I made in little over 35 minutes – from writing the script, recording the footage to editing and rendering the video for release… 35 minutes.
Activism is a weird one because I’ve always had strong opinions, but I’ve never been overly good at expressing them. Campaigning has taught me that some people are actually very inclined to listen, the only problem thus far has been packaging the message in a way that makes people want to listen. This can be achieved by telling a story, or giving the message in a new, unique way. I mentioned banner blindness in a previous post, which also applies when campaigning – people will block out ANYTHING that doesn’t immediately grab their attention.
The truth is, campaigning is hard, complex, and easy to get wrong… Just as easy as it is to get right. If you have a good message and can package it well, learning how to make a video or some intriguing infographics (like posters can with statistics) can take you a long way, and help validate your influence. Campaigning, like marketing and advertising, has become integral parts of our lives, we see adverts on almost every platform, from TV and radio stations to YouTube and even some of my blog posts. Marketing is much bigger than just a few promotional videos on the internet, and campaigning is more than just picketing or demonstrations. The thing with these three types of promotion is that the only real way to be successful at it is to have people listening. This is where personal branding comes in.
I’m not going to go on about personal branding at this stage because I still have little idea about the workings of the art, but I’m sure my returning readers can see the theme. Hopefully, I’ll win the elections for ACA VP and have something fun to talk about for the next week or so, but I guess only time will tell.
For those wondering, voting is all done in one day at an event called AGM, where all candidates get the opportunity to speak out in front of all the members of any given society, in this case, it’s ACA. AGM for ACA is on Tuesday 28th March, and results will be given at the ACA Culture Showcase, on Thursday 30th March… Wish me luck!