Interview: Rob Dawson

The senior communications officer at the National Osteoporosis Society explains to Ben Cook why it's important to understand your audience

Rob Dawson
Rob Dawson

- What campaigns have impressed you lately?

The NSPCC Full Stop campaign. It got a lot of stick at first because the campaign included no evidence of outcomes. But the NSPCC turned it around, took criticism on board and communicated the policy changes that had been made, as well as how many people had called its phone line. This type of ongoing evaluation is really important.

- What trends are you noticing in campaigning?

There is a greater understanding of social marketing. There used to be a lot of 'public will' campaigning, in which you aim to increase the visibility of your cause, but there is now a greater focus on behaviour-changing campaigns. For example, we found many girls were not taking part in PE lessons, so we encourage schools to put on dance classes.

- What will be the next big thing in social media?

Though there has been a big take-up of social media among the 20 to 40-year-old age group, osteoporosis sufferers are generally in an older age group where there is less interest. But social media does give charities the opportunity to create a supporter network in which people champion a cause within their network.

- Has the coalition government made it easier or more difficult for charities to campaign?

The coalition has opposing opinions on different areas, so it's less clear how to tackle the issue of campaigning.

But we've formed good ties with key MPs, and because of the proposed changes in the NHS they seem to be listening more.

- What advice do you have for people who want a career in campaigning?

It's important to understand your audience. Some people go into an organisation and talk only about the aims of the organisation, but what's also important is how you talk to your audience and how you motivate them. Do face-to-face work with your audience: get out there and talk to people.

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