Crafting content for impactful campaigns

As a self-confessed content fiend, even just seeing the word content in the title of this meetup got my creative brain cells suiting up and in the mood for a night out.

Not long after arriving at Manifesto’s office in Farringdon, my fellow digital-charity nerds and I were introduced to three speakers who went on to share the secrets of some of their most prized content possessions with the group. As I found their words of wisdom so useful I thought I’d pay them forward; I hope you’ll find them as helpful as I did.

The speakers were:

  1. Emma Shepherd, Head of Brand and Communications at St. John’s Ambulance
  2. Al Hutchinson, Head of Motion and Content at Manifesto
  3. Beatrice Lucy, Chief Digital Officer at the Citizens Advice Bureau

Their talks are summarised below, but here’s a list of my top 5 takeaways from the evening (aside from the miniature cupcake).

  1. Good tools to use for User Generated Content (UGC)
  • — Seenit helps organisations co-create video with their employees and brand ambassadors around the world.
  • — CrowdControlHQ, is a social media risk management and compliance platform, helping organisations to manage & control multiple networks
  1. “Sharing a passion creates positive action” — establish a shared value with your audience to drive passion and consequently engagement
  2. The YouTube ‘Hero, Hub, Hygiene’ model (see Talk 2)
  3. Use analytics and evidence to get internal buy-in
  4. Good insights, ideas and integration = maximum impact


St. John’s Ambulance


The Chokeables (

What was it?

An animated video voiced by celebrities that taught parents how to save their children from choking.

How did it do?

  • Forecast 1.8m views over three months — they reached this in four days!
  • The previous year’s campaign had 3k views, this had 300k (an increase of 10000%).
  • Up for Marketing Week’s brand of the year (the only charity to be nominated and up against the likes of Disney, Instagram and Lidl).

How did they do it?


Existing data (such as social media posts and YouGov surveys) revealed that although there was an appetite for information, people weren’t engaging with it as it was being presented, so they shifted their strategy to make content more compelling. A survey identified that over 40% of parents had seen their babies choke and didn’t know what to do.


From the insights they collaborated with BBH agency to create a brief from which the campaign emerged (the name the Chokeables came later from a member of their PR team).


With every idea they try to maximise every channel at their disposal; social, PR, digital, DM, internal staff (2k) and volunteers (40k) etc to create a 360 campaign. They used the PESO model to extend their reach:

From start (concept generation) to finish (launch), the campaign took 11 months (Feb-Jan) to deliver.

What went well?

  • Celebrity endorsement gave the campaign the extra gravitas and outreach.
  • Good news stories gave the campaign extra legs each time it seemed coverage was decreasing another story was reported — the campaign saved 48 babies’ lives.

What didn’t go so well?

  • Internal buy-in from the outset, particularly from fundraising.
  • Because of the above, they hadn’t prepared for all the extra donations they received and the impact the campaign would have on fundraising during the campaign.

Top tip:

  • Have a two-week contingency plan — always give a launch date that’s two weeks earlier than the actual launch date!

Anything else?

  • Perhaps missed an opportunity by not having a hashtag? They saw it as driving away from their key CTA which was share online or search and share (depending on where the ad was being shown).
  • St. John’s ambulance has a Trend Team made up of one digital, one PR and one social member of staff who look out for trends and opportunities. Their successful ‘quick and dirty’ and very cheap Game of Thrones social ads came out of this team.




World featherweight boxing championship

What was it?

A social campaign to bring boxing back into the mainstream (onto terrestrial). Former featherweight champion Barry McGuigan, who is now a boxing promoter with his own company (Cyclone Promotions), provided this brief:

  1. Attract the casual fan
  2. Make Carl Frampton famous

And this vision:

“Bring boxing back into the big time!”

How did it do?

  • The fight was broadcast on terrestrial TV (ITV) on a Saturday night in direct competition with Match of the Day on BBC
  • 2m viewers (76% of Northern Ireland watched)
  • 600k reached on Facebook during fight week
  • 450k minutes of content watched on YouTube
  • Winners of a Drum Marketing award in 2015

How did they do it?

“Sharing a passion creates positive action.”

Not everyone is as passionate as we are about our cause. It’s about finding that common passion and establishing a shared value that you as a charity owns and can be an expert in.

The Hero, Hub, Hygiene Model:

The below represents the three key hero pieces a charity or organisation might have in a year (so three big campaigns) against the more frequent activity they should be carrying out on YouTube (known as hub and hygiene).

The hero is the hero piece, the hub should be what people are passionate about (usually a weekly series that they expect) and the hygiene is the day-to-day functional piece, usually informative pieces of content.


Volvo trucks YouTube channel:

In the context of your campaign:

For Cyclone Promotions, the hero piece was the Night of TV (the boxing match) so Manifesto focussed on the hub and hygiene pieces using the 16 weeks that led up to the event to create a buzz around it.

  1. Hero: The event
  2. Hub: Friday fight camp — every Friday a behind-the-scenes look at the 16 week training period that led up to the event.
  3. Hygiene: Shorter clips/videos with Carl’s weigh-ins, nutritional advice, outtakes

What went well?

  • Facebook native player (autoplay). People tagged their friends in comments helping videos to go viral. At the time they were editing on site but now Facebook allows you to record videos live!
  • Celebrity endorsement (Barry and Carl retweeted everything to their followers of thousands)
  • YouTube became the hub and on the night of the event it became a second screen experience. A ‘newsroom’ was set up on site with an editor and a producer where they interviewed guests, live blogged and showed behind-the-scenes footage from the night.
  • Manifesto utilised old content ie Carl as a kid boxing and paid £100 per video for advertising (on each video). Analytics from the ads gave them insights such as view location: people were watching from as far away as Brazil!

What didn’t go so well?

  • Boxing has gone back to being a pay-per-view sport with rights owned by Sky.
  • No maintenance or plan for continuing the activity post-event.

Top tip:

  • Sharing a passion creates a positive action!


Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)


Content cleansing! Cleaning up the website

What was it?

Since CAB went digital in 1998 content has continuously been added to the site without any clear digital strategy. Pages are either far too long — some exceed 5,000 words — or the information within them is impossible to find. This project was focussed around how they’re working to improve their site.

How did it do?

  • Two years spent so far
  • Pages shorter and more interactive
  • Easier to navigate
  • User-first content
  • 950 weeks of work (over halfway there)!
  • Insights drive decisions

How did they do it?

After a shed load of research, data collection and insights gathering they created a strategy with four main aims:

  1. User driven digital services
  2. Iterative content
  3. Mobile first
  4. Practical and tactical advice (make the user’s online experience the same as face-to-face)

Then they identified four ways to do this within the content:

  1. Get to the point — get to your point in the first line!
  2. Focus on the outcome — make the solution easy to find/first thing they see
  3. Understand the user’s state of mind — are they agitated/uncomfortable by what they’re reading? Put them at ease through design and copy
  4. Use their language — self-explanatory!

From this CAB developed their digital principles:

What went well?

  • Using evidence to get internal buy-in ie showing the most popular search terms to show that the language they were using was confusing to the user.
  • Cleaner, more user-friendly site (ie interactive gas bill advice)

What didn’t go so well?

  • Buy-in was difficult at first. The charity is 75 years old, and has been online since 1998 with no knowledge internally “We knew nothing”.
  • Still a long way to go!

Top tips:

  • Have a conversation with the user ie Quartz news app — a conversation about news
  • If you can’t do it, tell someone who can ie a larger company
  • Champion your user, give them a voice and fight their corner
  • Share insights ie their accessibility audit showed that older people have by-passed desktop and have gone straight to tablet, they found that bigger buttons were better for these users which is info banks or software devs could use)

Anything else?

What does the future look like?

  • Content or services
  • Policy/delivery (who internally is doing the same thing — don’t duplicate, collaborate)
  • Branded content not branded platforms
  • Messaging as a platform and conversational UI (web chat platform) (web pages are dying)
  • Voice activation and interaction (accessibility)

Comic Relief Digital & Innovation

Comic Relief Engineering

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