Your members may be your most powerful messengers

Still image from BCTF ad Teachers SpeakWhen you’re creating an ad, the sheer range of choices available to you can make you feel like a seven-year-old set loose in a giant toy store. Brainstorming sessions sometimes go something like this:

“We could have a talking CGI animal!”
“Wait, how about a movie trailer parody?”
“Oh! Oh! We could get Carly Rae Jepsen and Justin Bieber to sing a duet about wage parity!”
“Yeah, I like that! And we do it against a backdrop of kittens playing among ancient Greek ruins…”
“We could crowdsource the kittens in a nation-wide contest, and the winner would get a CGI version of their kitten…”
“…voiced by…three words: William. Freakin’. Shatner.”

High-concept ideas are sometimes perfect for the communications task at hand… but not always. Often, a simple, direct approach can deliver a message with far more impact. When people feel like you’re speaking to them honestly and authentically, they can be more open to your message.

That’s especially true when you can build on an existing relationship of trust with your audience. And for the members of the BC Teachers’ Federation, years of conversations in classrooms and school hallways have helped to build such a relationship with parents across the province. Parents have first-hand knowledge of teachers’ passion for quality education, and they’ve often pulled together to overcome challenges and grapple with the impact of cuts.

So when we helped the BCTF craft an ad about the choice British Columbians face in the provincial election, it quickly become clear that the most powerful messengers we could call on were teachers themselves: sharing their love of teaching, the obstacles kids are facing after a decade of cuts, and the need to elect a government that will support better schools in BC.

The teachers who worked with us did a terrific job – and whatever they might have lacked in professional acting polish, they more than made up for in warmth and sincerity.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMoY2ZOkPC4?rel=0&w=720&h=405]

Next time you’re thinking about how to reach your audience, ask yourself about the kind of relationship your members have with them… and whether that could give you the basis for a powerful message, direct from the people who live it every day.

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