A lie told enough becomes the truth – Vladimir Lenin
Sadly it is not just that ideas that get labelled as good or bad. The “persecutor, victim, rescuer” model that most campaigning charities use to drum up money and galvanise their supporters makes two errors.
The first is that opponents are characterised as evil. Whether you are an oil company executive or a gamekeeper, a Tory MP or a working class Tory voter your views are deemed to be not worth listening to. You are portrayed as missing a moral compass or lacking the intelligence to understand. Or probably both. Compromise or even dialogue become impossible. Dog whistle tactics are used to ensure that you remain seen as the persecutor.
The second, bigger error of the NGOs is that they tell themselves that they are saints. A messianic belief in the purity of their purpose and rightness of their creed can be seen throughout the political ecosystem. The bird activists who speak for all birds or the climate change protestors who stand in the gap for the future of humanity. They are jihadists in their self-righteousness and certainty. Your reputation is collateral damage in their pursuit of the greater good.
So your task is to make your organisation seem to be on the side of the angels. A clever example of this is the British Climate Secretary’s assertion that the climate is not just a left wing issue but a right wing concern as well.
The lesson for clients: never be passive about your personal narrative. Both online and in the traditional media, politics abhors a vacuum. Therefore if you don’t build your own image your opponents will do it for you. You can expose their lack of credibility without impugning their intentions.