Over the past year, I’ve been hard at work developing a 2-year public awareness campaign. Next week, the first ad spots for this campaign will air on national broadcast and cable channels here in the US as a second phase of the campaign. The first phase was a soft launch on social media in December. Many lessons were learned from creating the campaign plan to selling the idea to leadership and to members of the Board of Directors across the country. Many modifications were made along the way, but the vision remained the same. Here are my five lessons learned:

Stick with your vision. Establish the desired end scenario from the beginning. You can adjust how you get there, what tools you use and what audiences you reach but stay true to that initial vision.

Adjust smartly. With anything related to the field of communications, most people believe they are experts as they engage with the medium in their daily lives – from social media to advertising. However, exposure does not necessarily translate to expertise. Many will freely offer their advice – and it will differ widely – listen intently but be decisive and smart in choosing what advice to take onboard.

Never fear visibility. Creating any type of public facing campaign for an organization will raise the stakes for them both internally and externally. Such increased visibility will result in a lot of interest and a lot of conversation. What naturally follows on from that is criticism. The more public you are, the more critics you will face. Don’t fear the conversation and encourage direct engagement with those critics.

Even airtight launches falter. No matter how well you plan a launch, something will ultimately go wrong; in our case, an erroneous tweet. How did we recover? We jumped into the conversation created by the tweet and continued to reach out to those offended online and offline. And we kept the launch going. End result – we had new champions emerge and new potential partnerships (as well as more engagement with the campaign than planned – see number three above).

Stand strong. It’s your campaign. If you do not believe in it through thick and thin, no one else will. That goes for the communications and marketing team, leadership and the organization as a whole. Believe in the product and communicate about it with one unified voice.

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