How can a good campaign be set up? How important is the theme or even the choice of name? How can results be measured? In general, how do we define success for different NGO issues? How can we protect the vulnerable groups we are working with? These are some of the questions that Andrea Sczígel of the NIOK Foundation discussed with the finalists and winners of the Best Communication Campaign category of the Civil Awards, Hungary. The three finalist organisations were represented by Enikő Doktor (Smile Foundation, Marketing and Communications Manager), Zoltán Havasi (Budapest Bike Maffia, Founder and Director), and Ágnes Romet-Balla (SOS Children's Villages, Fundraising and Communications Director).

You need a story!

For all three campaigns, it was true that beyond the day-to-day operations of the organisations, there was a story that could be presented through a campaign. For Budapest Bike Maffia, it was about children and adults who had never seen Lake Balaton, the Smile Foundation celebrated its 25th anniversary by looking back at its successes and stories, and SOS Children's Villages raised awareness of the prejudices and stigmas against children in state care.

Agency or internal communication?

Everyone agreed that a good communication campaign does not require an agency. Enikő Doktor and Ágnes Romet-Balla said from their own experience that a campaign with a national reach can be carried out with an existing in-house team. Zoltán Havasi and the Budapest Bike Maffia team, on the other hand, have been working with an agency for three years. It is important to note, however, that this is not an occasional, campaign-like collaboration, but a close, day-to-day relationship and communication. According to Zoltán and Ágnes, long-term cooperation is also crucial to an agency's understanding of the organisation's work and its use of appropriate language, especially when it comes to sensitive groups such as homeless people or children with chronic, incurable illnesses.

Sensitisation and donor engagement - can you do both?

It is important to focus on the above-mentioned vulnerable groups, because we can all think of examples where the media or other actors influencing public discourse have portrayed such groups in a way that has victimised them or even abused their vulnerability. Even if sensitisation is not an objective for an organisation, as it is not for the Smile Foundation, there should be communication guidelines. The experience of Agnes Romet-Balla and Zoltán Havasi shows that the content needed to sensitise, reach supporters and encourage action often does not coincide, and compromises may have to be made.

Ready-made solutions for media partnerships

Even if everything is ready for the campaign, it can be very difficult to get the attention of the media. The willingness of editors and journalists to take a fresh, comprehensive approach to a topic, or to choose from ready-made solutions, depends to a large extent on the medium and the topic.

What is success and how can it be measured?

As all campaigns were most focused on the online space, social media and Analytics (GA4) were the main metrics for these campaigns, but the increase in volunteers and donors and donations were also key metrics for measuring results.

To learn more, listen to the conversation here! [recording in Hungarian]

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