Get a following

No man is an island – including the Isle of Man, which is an island but not a man – so you’re going to need a bit of help if you plan to change the world. Here are expert tips on how to attract a loyal bunch of disciples.

Famous friends

We’re not all Bob Geldof – that would be confusing – so we can’t just give Bono a tinkle and ask him to sing in our special concert. All is not lost, however: use these tips and you’ll soon be reeling in the stars.

Find other organisations that are interested in similar things to you, then look on their website to see who their celebrity supporters are.
Approach their agents – google them to find their website or do an agency search.
Look out for people doing good work in the press, then target them without mercy.
Be genuine, write to them and tell them why you’re approaching them and exactly what help you’d like from them (an autograph to sell to raise money for your campaign; to appear at a stunt).
Follow up everything you do with another letter or a phone call. But don’t be a pain in the cheeks. is like an old-fashioned market, except you swap seed-marketing skills for artistic ability, not pigs for parsnips. So a skill-swap, basically. Drop by to exchange help with something you’re good at for help with something you’re not.

When you register tick the ‘I am a member of the Battlefront group’ box and you will immediately be in the same network as other campaigners on the site. Go get swapping.


The best way to get a following is to publicise your campaign and make sure you let people know how to contact you. Then you’ll have a list of people simply begging to be told what to do – mass gatherings, protests, flyering, that sort of thing. Just remember these things:

Always supply contact details when you’re promoting your campaign or no one will be able to get in touch if they want to lend a hand.

Once they have got in touch, make sure you give them something to do or they’ll lose interest.

Don’t clog up their inbox with a billion emails, but don’t forget about them completely: regular updates on what you’re doing and how they can help, that’s the ticket.

If you’re rolling in it you can buy lists of email addresses, but people don’t like spam much – far better to get help the good way, by publicising your campaign.

Social networks can be a goldmine if you use them correctly; this article from our online marketing section will help:

The cardinal rule is to use your contacts: always respond to questions and comments on your pages to show that you care; and try to give them something to do on your page – taking part in a poll, for example – so they feel involved from the start.

Here’s a handy Q&A with ecampaigning expert Mr Duane Raymond:

I’ve managed to get lots of friends on my social networking page, how can I get them to help my campaign?

Ideally the best thing to do is to have your social networking page set up from the start to direct people to an email sign-up on your own site, where you can engage in direct communication with them. If you haven’t done that then set it up!

If you have set it up some people will be tempted to just join your profile and not go on and sign up, so if there’s a way of messaging all those people who are friends or members of your group then you should message them and direct them to your campaign; ideally with a campaign action that you’ve directed them to do. If they’re just sitting on a page and not doing anything then they’re not much use.

I generally see social networking tools as a way of attracting people to a cause and then directing them to action on your own site or own page.

Because those sites aren’t made for campaigning – they’re made for talking to friends – they’re not good for mobilizing people when you need them. Instead you can see them as recruitment and convention places for people to connect with you before establishing a relationship.

How can I persuade people to give up their time for my campaign?

Ask them!

You don’t need to do much persuasion; you need to do work around making it easy for them to do it. So you need to know the types of things you need help with. Some small minority, half a percent, might take initiative and say ‘how can I volunteer?’ but otherwise you need to create those opportunities.

For example, on social networking sites, maintaining your profile, and maintaining communication on your profile is very time intensive. So you could ask them, to help manage the presence on the group or site. You can give them directions: we need to focus on getting people on the site. And then they go ahead and send updates and post to other groups. So you’re preparing to help them to help you.

There could be other ways too – it depends what your campaign needs – eg if you need to do research around a subject – because research is often quite important for campaigning – so you ‘crowd-source’ your research. You say to your supporters – we need the research done – so why don’t you guys go out and post it onto a page eg facebook group, wiki page. Lots of people could do the research and then one or two people might want to compile it into a meaningful report, with your guidance.

These are just examples. It depends what you need to do. You need to think, ‘is it something I could ask my supporters to do’ and then to make sure that they then have enough information and support to do it for you.

People may say I want to volunteer but they’ll have different strengths and weaknesses, so you want a range of options so that they can volunteer on what they think they’re good at. Then if they’re good at online marketing they could do that, they could even manage other volunteers!

I’ve managed to get a load of people to say they’ll help, how do I keep them on board?

Regularly solicit their opinion and expertise – allow them to influence the campaign as much as you do.

One person may be the champion and visionary but then it comes down to practicalities. Nothing pisses people off more, especially if they’re volunteering, than not being asked for their opinion. Managing volunteers is very different to managing employees – they’ll get pissed off and leave – they’re not at work. If you have gaps in what needs to be done then you have to fill them yourself, or find new people to fill those gaps, that could be delegated to someone.

For example, on social networking sites, maintaining your profile, and maintaining communication on your profile is very time intensive. So you could ask them, to help manage the presence on the group or site. You can give them directions: we need to focus on getting people on the site. And then they go ahead and send updates and post to other groups. So you’re preparing to help them to help you.

Remember that when you’re managing a bunch of volunteers the jobs you’re left with are the shit no-one else wants to do. You might find yourself filling in all those gaps. That’s leadership for you!

Jane Powell, Director of CALM and a life-long campaigner, has this advice:

Keep your contact list up to date with names and contact details – if you’ve made a contact, and they’ve helped you, or can help, then keep their number someplace you can find it again. Campaigning is also about who you know.It’s people that make change. Maintain a good relationship with everyone you deal with. And when someone is negative, see if you can turn it around, and use that negativity to help you move on with the campaign.

Here’s Jane Powell’s advice on getting people to support your campaign:

If it’s just you doing it then it’s an obsession – if it’s you doing it with lots of other people then it’s a campaign. So keep dragging people in and find ways for them to be involved, ways that will suit them and the campaign. Find out what they’re best at and what they enjoy most. And use whatever you can, wherever you find it.

“The best ideas are everybody else’s”

So if there’s a guy from Newcastle who can offer something, then use him. And if all you have is the offer of help from a great photographer, then start there. And pump everyone for their input. The best ideas are always everybody else’s. So be as open as you can be to everybody else’s ideas and give them the ability to follow those ideas through – don’t take all the credit yourself and don’t do their job.

You just need to take that one good idea and then explore this with everyone who you can persuade to sit down for 10 mins and listen. Then start putting it together in such a way that everyone can get involved in their own way. Kick off the first rock and see how many rocks it can bring with it as it goes. The key is creating a vehicle which others will join in. You can’t foresee what’s going to happen further down the line. But if it’s a good idea, if it has wheels, then it will grow and get bigger and bigger as it goes forward.

A good campaign for me is one which is organic and which becomes something that other people can add to and expand in ways which you have never dreamed of.

“A good campaign will expand in ways which you have never dreamed of”

So it can start with something really simple like people give a pound and adding their name (as long as there is a good clear dream behind it and a method of collecting that money/those names). But the important thing is that you have to put the idea out there, give it out to the world to get response from people. And when they respond, and come up with different ways in which they can be involved, then you know you’re going someplace.