Guide to campaign planning

This guide is for all government communications professionals, regardless of discipline or organisation.

Guide to campaign planning – OASIS framework (PDF, 136KB, 2 pages)

Overview

The purpose of this guide is to ensure that all government communications are effective, efficient and evaluated. It will help you develop your plan and structure your thinking.

It applies to every kind of planned communication and campaign, from the most effective way to put out news via press and digital, at no cost, to large scale multi-million pound behaviour change campaigns.

This guide will help you develop your plan and structure your thinking. The time it takes to develop a campaign plan varies greatly. For press/digital campaigns, your plan may take a few hours, while for long term behaviour change campaigns the audience analysis alone may take weeks.

What is a campaign

A campaign is a planned sequence of communications and interactions that uses a compelling narrative over time to deliver a defined and measurable outcome.

All government communications should be viewed in the context of a wider campaign, for example what do we want to achieve and where does it fit in? This way we can ensure that all our work links to a clear objective and we can evaluate the impact of everything we do.

OASIS framework

OASIS is a series of steps that can help bring order and clarity to planning campaigns. The aim is to help make the planning process rigorous and consistent.

Diagram of OASIS to help plan a campaign

The five steps you need to create a campaign using OASIS are:

  1. Objectives
  2. Audience/Insight
  3. Strategy/Ideas
  4. Implementation
  5. Scoring/Evaluation

Objectives

Keep objectives SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time bound.

The CORE role of government communications:

  • Changing behaviours that benefit society
  • Operational effectiveness of public services
  • Reputation of the UK and responding in times of crises
  • Explanation of government policies and programmes

Set out what the communications activity is intending to achieve. Start with the policy aim and develop communications objectives that will deliver this. Include the role that communication will contribute to achieving the policy aim and the role that individual activities or channels will play in meeting the communications objective. Objectives should be achievable, measurable – expressed numerically where possible, focused on outcomes not outputs and related to changing attitudes and/or behaviour.

Audience insight

Who is the campaign aimed at? Do you need to change or influence their attitudes and behaviours to help you achieve your objective? What are the barriers to change that your campaign can help to address?

Understanding your audience is critical to an effective campaign. It is important that we use insight to create a full picture of who they are and how they will reach a desired outcome. Use your own commissioned research, data from elsewhere in government or publicly available information.

The Market Research Society’s Research Buyers Guide provides useful sources of audience insight. Cabinet Office holds a bank of research too. To access content available within the GCS, or to join the Insight and Evaluation basecamp group, email insight@cabinetoffice.gov.uk.

EAST framework

If you are working on a large-scale behaviour change project, you should look at using the EAST framework to inform campaign planning.

Strategy and idea:

Use the insight to set out your approach. You will also need to cover proposition/messaging; channels; and partners/influencers. Map the audience journey and design communications relevant to different stages of the journey. Where possible test or pilot your approach to assess its effectiveness.

Implementation

Once you have defined your approach, you should set out how you will deliver your communications and what tactics you will use. Develop a clear plan that allocates resources and sets out the timescales for delivery. Bring influencers and partners on board to increase impact and use low cost approaches where possible; particularly PR and partnerships.

Scoring and evaluation

You should monitor outputs, outtakes and outcomes throughout your campaign and evaluate once it is complete.

Related content

Campaign and strategy templates