The Heart Truth® Team's Top Ten Insights into What Makes a Campaign Work

Behind the success of The Heart Truth, a campaign sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to raise awareness about women's risk of heart disease, is a dedicated team. Below we share our off-the-record insights into what makes a team and a campaign tick.

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  1. Know What Makes a Great Team
    If you have one that is passionately committed to the cause, you're in luck. Strong leadership and good management are important, of course. And if the campaign team involves staff from a nonprofit or government-sponsoring organization and a contractor PR firm or other agency, good client=agency behavior is a must. The ‘‘3 Rs'' go a long way: respect, responsiveness, and realistic expectations.
  2. Get the Goods – Good Marketing Research and Good Creative
    If you work for a sponsoring organization seeking to hire a campaign contractor, follow all the usual advice about how to select a good agency. Then add one more thing: make sure the agency can talk the talk and walk the walk. Agencies that service social marketing clients often can talk a good game about campaign development and formative research, but they may not be able to deliver on the creative side. Look for a group that has the creative chops and marketing moxie. You'll need both.
  3. Just Say No
    From the outset and especially as your campaign gets underway, keep in mind that not all ideas and opportunities are created equal. If something is not on-strategy, just say no, even to good ideas, partners, audiences, messages, and tactics. Sometimes it hurts, but it will keep your campaign honest and on course and will prevent you from wasting precious resources chasing after someone else's agenda.
  4. Get the Best Fit
    In the campaign development phase, look for formative research, creative concepts, and creative executions that are the very best fit you can get. If the creative concepts truly reflect the formative research results and the campaign materials flow from those concepts with inspiration and creativity, you will have a home run.
  5. Realize It's Not Just about the Message
    Branding – creating a powerful identity for your cause – can be the social marketer's best friend. Combining branding with social marketing in an integrated approach can help a campaign connect meaningfully with its audience, create a receptive environment, and raise the visibility of the cause and sponsoring organization.
  6. Take a Risk
    If you've got a powerful idea, a brilliant execution, a risky but worthwhile tactic, take a deep breath and go ahead with it. But remember #3, ‘‘Just say No'': Whatever risks you take must be on-strategy risks.
  7. Plan to be in it for the Long Haul
    Do what it takes to help your campaign have staying power. Too often, agency managers and powers-that-be will try to kill a campaign, or change it drastically, just as it's beginning to show results. There may be no good reason for this except management's penchant to move on to the next thing. Be sure to lay the groundwork early by cultivating key constituent groups and collecting process measures and even outcome measures if possible.
  8. Sell it Inside
    Achieving staying power (above) requires that you be your campaign's champion within your organization. Go ahead and blow your own horn, loudly, and up many levels of management.
  9. Don't be Afraid to Partner with Industry
    But do it with eyes wide open. Corporate partners can extend your campaign in many ways, giving you powerful reach to your target audience. But, again, remember to stay on strategy. Partners have to be appropriate (however you define that), a good fit for the campaign, and they must follow your agenda, not the reverse. All that said, it's important to keep in mind that a successful collaboration has to benefit both partners in some way.
  10. Pinch Yourself
    Above all, if somehow, somewhere you get to work on a social marketing initiative to which you feel passionately committed, and it is a career high point for you, is fun, and even a little glamorous – enjoy it.