Mass email campaigns to peers are ineffective, study finds

Charities should emphasise a personal link in their communications, according to research by Esther Foreman of the Clore Social Leadership Programme

Esther Foreman
Esther Foreman

Mass email campaigns by charities to members of the House of Lords are ineffective in terms of changing their views, a new report concludes.

Peering In: an Analysis of Public and Charity Sector Lobbying in the House of Lords, by Esther Foreman, a fellow of the Clore Social Leadership Programme, compiled findings from in-depth interviews with nine peers and survey responses from 21 organisations, including 18 charities.

The report, published this week, says: "As the interviews with members of the House of Lords revealed, mass online campaigns will not alter the opinions of peers, in much the same way that traditional postcard campaigns did not previously."

The report points out that the House of Lords is a "very crowded arena" and that most peers have little or no administrative support that can help them process large volumes of communication.

It says that few of the peers interviewed for this research could name any particular organisation that had carried out email campaigns, or the names of any campaigns.

"This is despite the fact that all but two of the peers interviewed for this research had been the target of an online campaign in the past 18 months around one or more bills," it says.

The report quotes peers interviewed as part of the research, including the Labour peer Lord Faulkner. "I don’t respond when it is very obviously a complete round-robin approach and there are obviously hundreds of thousands of people who have had this identical letter," he said. "I don’t think they are very effective."

But the report says that all of the peers interviewed acknowledged that email campaigns serve a useful purpose in bringing issues to their attention, despite any inconvenience caused.

The report says charities should instead make sure their correspondence with peers is clear and well-written, has some kind of personal link to the peer and includes or points to strong evidence or personal stories.

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