7. Campaign ideation and conceptualisation

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This is your very first step towards bringing your own sustainability campaign to life, so you are probably wondering where you should start. This is a big task, so it’s completely understandable to feel a bit lost! To help you get going, we would like to walk you through a useful framework that you can apply to many different tasks, such as project design, argumentative writing (preparing an essay or a report, drafting a cover letter, or working on a presentation), and even goal setting. All you need to do is to be SMART! That is, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based. We’ll unpack each of these concepts in relation to your campaign, but you’ll see that they are transferable to pretty much any other project or idea you’d like to specify and develop further.


This means that the theme and the goal of your campaign need to be well defined, clear, and unambiguous. For instance, it’s not enough to say that your campaign will focus on promoting economic sustainability, because there are a lot of very different ideas that can fall under than description. A much better approach would be to identify that your campaign will encourage its participants to reevaluate their consumer behaviour, specifically when it comes to the fashion industry. You can narrow it down further to say that you will educate the campaign participants on slow versus fast fashion or, for instance, challenge them to only do thrift shopping.


Here, you need to establish criteria that measure your progress and accomplishment. In the context of campaign planning and management, it would be useful to break the project up into smaller, bite-size tasks, which you can tackle and tick off your list one by one. Have a look back at the project brief and you’ll notice that the process of campaign design has been divided into specific milestones and spread out across four weeks. Setting it up like that makes it measurable. 


Attainability of the project means that it is of the right scope for a given context or someone’s abilities. We have somewhat assisted you with this step by identifying that you’ll be creating a program-wide sustainability campaign for Inland Rail, but there is still some thinking you’ll need to do to refine it. For instance, it would be unreasonable to design a campaign around an assumption that all Inland Rail employees can take a month off work to participate in a large-scale volunteer project somewhere in remote Australia - that is unachievable. So, your task is to consider potential available resources and potential limitations before identifying the campaign's theme and proposing activities. 


Ideally, the theme of your campaign will be tied to the context in which it will be rolled out, with activities, events, and other campaign materials holding importance and significance for its participants and broader local community. To ensure your campaign’s relevance, link it to the UN SDGs and the Inland Rail’s key sustainability objectives. It may also be a good idea to root your campaign in a personal experience or an observation. Relevance also means that all components of your campaign create a cohesive narrative and there is nothing that seems odd or disconnected.


Unless you are creating a project that’s meant to be ongoing (which is not the case here), you’ll need to anchor it to a specific timeline. Your timeline will vary from project to project, but for this campaign it would be good to think about the duration of a campaign (does it go for a week, a fortnight, or a month?) and map out some key dates when certain activities are taking place or communication materials are being released. The purpose of a timeline is to create structure and organise the efforts of campaign participants and contributors.

Don't forget about the SMART framework when you start brainstorming ideas for your campaign!