Time to get a cause

In the same way that when you come across a new word, you then hear and see it everywhere, every so often an issue surfaces which you have given little or no thought to – and suddenly you can’t get away from it.

For me this week, the omnipresent issue has been children learning music, or more specifically, children missing out on the chance to learn music. Before you go any further, I hear you cry, what does this have to do with content marketing? Well, this campaign seems to have roots that go far wider than a bit of interest from the national media and it’s interesting to look at how the people backing it have got their pet subject so comprehensively into the public eye – which is exactly what you are trying to do using content marketing.

So – on Monday, Radio 4’s Today programme devoted a considerable chunk of time to a study by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music showing that more children are now learning the electric guitar than the violin. The report also showed a leap in the total number of children saying they know how to play an instrument, up to 76pc from 41pc in 1999, but also highlighted a widening gap between the numbers from wealthier and poorer backgrounds learning music.

Checking my emails the same morning, I had a message from the petition site Change.org asking me to join more than 61,000 people and sign a petition from pianist James Rhodes calling on the Education Secretary to deliver on the Government’s 2011 promise to give every child in England the chance to learn to play a musical instrument.

As it turns out, James Rhodes has a Channel 4 TV series called Don’t Stop the Music airing this month, on exactly the same subject. According to his website, Mr Rhodes himself had a troubled childhood and stints in psychiatric hospitals until he learned to play the piano and turned his life around. Worthwhile as his petition no doubt is, I had never heard of his television programme but now I have, thanks to the mention of it in the message from Change.org. This email presumably reached a far larger number of people than a press release from Channel 4 would have.

So what does this mean for your business or organisation? Something that newspapers have known for centuries – there is nothing like a campaign to push your subject up the agenda. Keep plugging away at a subject dear to your heart with regular updates of worrying or encouraging statistics and strong opinions, and you’ll soon get other people talking about it too. Slowly, slowly or sometimes very quickly, the issue worms itself into the public consciousness and ends up in front of decision makers.

These days, you don’t need a newspaper to champion your cause. You can set up a Change.org petition just like James Rhodes; you can commission a survey and publish the results on your website; or you can have a well-known figure in your organisation make a video and put it on YouTube, and use your own Twitter and LinkedIn page to alert customers and followers to its existence. If it’s good and interesting stuff, the audience for it will snowball as people share links with friends and colleagues.

A campaign shows you care about your subject and are engaged with it. Content marketing allows you to hit the campaign trail using your own platforms.




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