Consumers' group to step up campaigning

LUCY MAGGS

The Consumers' Association has taken on four team leaders as part of a move to sharpen the focus of its campaigning activities.

This is the first time the organisation has taken on specialist campaigning staff and follows the appointment of Allan Asher as director of campaigns and communications in October last year.

Under the latest move, its campaigning activities will be focused on four areas: food; financial services; health; and consumer markets. The association has campaigned successfully in these areas in the past. Each area will be headed by one of the team leaders who are all campaigns specialists.

Staff from other departments will also be involved in campaigns.

"Campaigns will run across departments. The press office, public affairs and corporate relations will all contribute but they will be led by campaigns staff. Everyone will be part of a campaign,

said Asher.

The association hopes the four new areas of focus will give it more direction and increase public awareness of its aims. It also plans to start using more innovative campaigning methods. "We expect to push ahead in the next two years and make the organisation more edgy,

said Asher.

Campaign web sites have been set up for each area to encourage the public to communicate their complaints to the organisation. The association's lawyers will be actively looking for litigation opportunities from complaints logged on the site.

Over the next few years, it will also attempt to get the public more involved in its campaigns. "Consumers are ready, willing and able to take action. We are going to be provoking them into assisting the Consumers' Association to act,

said Asher.

"You get a real long-term pay-off when you lock consumers into an activist mindset. They will stick with you."

The association also plans to increase the involvement of Which? magazines, published by its trading arm, in campaigns.

Which? recently ran a campaign called Switch with Which?, which targeted customers of British Gas and then the main high street banks, encouraging them to investigate other suppliers to ensure they are getting the best deal.

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