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What are the most effective means used by campaign groups to try to recruit their members?
In this assignment, I am going to try and explain and explore the ways in which campaign groups attempt to recruit new members and strengthen their own following. I plan to target 4 key movements and assess them in detail. Firstly Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler’s campaign, then I will discuss how the suffragette movement attempted to gain support through their time. After these historical examples, I will look at two newer examples, the student protests in 2010 and Islamic State (IS or ISIS), which is an on going movement. I will compare the way modern campaigns promote their ideas to the way in which older and more historical campaigns got their messages across. There have been changes, mainly due to the impressive step forward with technology, however, some ways in which campaigns promote remains to be the same.
Campaign groups are forever within our society. There are always groups who are campaigning for something that they believe in. These can include topics such as religion, politics, environment and rights. The definition of ‘campaign’ is as follows: “a series of coordinated activities, such as public speaking and demonstrating, designed to achieve a social, political, or commercial goal” (Wilcken and Harrison). Campaigns, which are often successful, are often those with large numbers of support and members, for example on a large scale, the general election. The successful party is the one with the most votes. But how do the campaigners and the campaign groups get their votes, followers and support? There are two main aspects in my opinion which campaigners focus on, the propaganda and the promises they make. The definition of propaganda is as follows,
“information, ideas, or rumours deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc.” (Dictionary, 2014)
The use of propaganda is a huge role of a campaigns success. It is a chance for the organisation or in some cases, individuals, to essentially advertise what they stand for. Propaganda has been used in many symbolic campaigns such as Nazi Germany, suffragette movement, student protest, general elections and many more. It is a chance for the campaigners to grab the attention of the possible followers and members. Not only is propaganda a key element for success, it is also a key part of starting the campaign. It’s an opportunity to spread the ideas to the public and provide them with the information about their cause. For example Nazi Germany, used propaganda to influence the minds of the German people to essentially coax them into believing Adolf Hitler’s beliefs. The campaigns were able to create a feeling of hatred towards Jews through the use of the propaganda, which in turn, convinced a lot of the German population that these views were correct and should be held by all Germans. Often enough the propaganda would include posters, flyers, appearances by high profile personnel, videos and media coverage through radios. Part of Hitler’s tactics was to make the population of Germany feel victimised by other nations to rally support for his own ideas. Hitler described the importance of propaganda in his book “Mein Kampf” where he stated,
“Propaganda works on the general public from the standpoint of an idea and makes them ripe for the victory of this idea." (Hitler, 1926)
This quote shows how Hitler planned to use the propaganda, by making the public believe an idea, soon to be his own, and then using the public essentially as members of his campaign. As stated earlier, by making the nation feel victimised, he expected them to ‘rise’ up and follow his beliefs to essentially defend their country. The way in which propaganda was used during the Nazi reign over Germany, worked very well. By essentially fooling the German population into believing the ideas and supporting the actions carried out, Hitler had a mass following meaning that most of the nation also held his views which aided in his campaigns. It is no secret that Hitler managed to influence the minds of a nation, it is because of this that he was so successful during his time until Nazi regimes ended.
“The Nazi regime used propaganda effectively to mobilize the German population to support its wars of conquest until the very end of the regime. Nazi propaganda was likewise essential to motivating those who implemented the mass murder of the European Jews and of other victims of the Nazi regime.” (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2014)
The way in which propaganda works is similar to that of a supermarket deal. If a supermarket has an offer that they want the public to see, the place posters around, radio adverts and now television adverts. The principals are the same but both on very different scales.
Propaganda was not just used by the Nazi Regime. The suffragettes who fought for women’s rights also used much propaganda in order to achieve a successful campaign. It all really began in 1897 through Millicent Fawcett but really took off in 1903. The campaigns began relatively calm and peaceful, however the frustrations of the women soon prevailed. The campaign soon resulted in violent acts by female idols such as Emmeline Pankhurst. The violence could be seen as a form of propaganda. In my view, I see that this is what the feminists wanted to achieve. By disrupting events and causing havoc throughout society, other women felt inclined to join and stand up for their female counterparts. Most of the actions taken by the feminist group were designed to grab the attention of the public, hoping that their own actions would create a positive response thus supporting the group. A good example of this comes from 1908 when the movement ‘rushed’ Parliament trying to encourage the public to join in and try and invade the House of Commons, resulting in 60,000 people gathering. (Parliament UK, 2010). Incidents such as these were the forefront of the women’s campaign and were ultimately what won them the publicity and made their voices heard. Arguably one of the biggest publicity stunts that the suffragette movement carried out was on June 4th 1913. A feminist named Emily Davison risked and gave her life for this movement. During a horse race, she flung herself in front of one of the horses running in the race, which was spectated by high profile individuals including members of the royal family. The idea behind this act was that there would have been a huge crowd who would play witness to the event. This was an act designed to further disrupt the norms of the current society and raise awareness to the beliefs and demands of suffragettes in a public bid to give women the right to vote. Due to the vast number of people in the crowd and the importance of certain individuals, Davison completed an act, which significantly publicised the women’s movement, thus successfully ‘advertised’ what she believed in. It was also designed to strike at the hearts of women in England, making them believe that what the suffragettes believed was worthy of dying for. The events which took place during the women’s suffragette movement aimed to recruit new followers and grown their support to prove the point that what they believed in, was believed by others and required a change. The suffragette believed that the movement was not receiving enough publicity and took an extreme step towards media attention hoping to leave a lasting effect on the matter.
“In fact Davison was an intelligent and calculating person who understood that by 1913 the militant suffragettes and the Home Secretary, Reginald McKenna, were engaged in a struggle for public opinion.” (Pugh, 2013)
The two examples provided so far, are obviously somewhat outdated, nonetheless, they were massive campaign groups, which had a massive influence on populations on a large scale. Although the campaigns were successful in their own rights, they were restricted on how much promotion and publicity they could carry out. Today, new social groups and campaign groups have many more options to glorify and publicise their ideas. The creation of the Internet, mobile phones and easily accessible and affordable televisions have made using propaganda much more simple. The ways in which previous campaign groups used propaganda was more physical, for example the use of posters, public speeches and appearances gave the public a visible representation of the individual or group who were trying to get their attention. Now campaigns can be done through televisions where the public can just view it by themselves instead of being there as a member of a crowd, which could arguably sway an individual to believe the ideas as they get caught up in the excitement of a rally and can ‘feel’ the emotion on a more personal level. Campaigns can still be done by means of posters and appearances, however due to the rise in Internet use and social media, a lot is done virtually. The next examples of campaign groups are from a more modern society and show changes in the use of propaganda and recruitment of new members.
In 2010 a new campaign group showed face in a swift changing society. The Liberal Democrats promised for there to be no rise in tuition fees in the UK, however, the fees rocketed up resulting in students taking to the streets and protesting. A large crowd of students descended on London from all across the country to vent their frustration and attempt to get the attention of the nation. Were they successful? At the moment, no they weren’t because the tuition fees are still at an all time high. But was their quest to gain followers and members successful? Absolutely. As a result of the failed promises, students were left to feel betrayed, lied to and cheated. Because of this the students believed that it was up to them to do something about the fees. Students used the power of the Internet and social media to begin their campaigns. Social media was a huge part of the students campaign. Without it, they may not have been able to communicate between one another. The students used social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook to organize where groups would meet, suggestions on what to do, what to say and what to target. Students from all over the country were able to communicate with each other on pages relating to the tuition fees. Millions across the world use Facebook and Twitter, soon enough the sites created a wave of support for the students, mostly being student themselves.
“Using Facebook and Twitter to organize protest marches and occupations of university buildings, and to debate the issues, allowed for much more fluid and rapid organization to emerge than would be possible going through “official” channels.” (Grant, 2011).
Social media and social networking are more powerful than people believe. The way, in which social media sites such as Facebook can be used, have the potential to influence the minds of those who regularly visit such sites. Those with Facebook tend to be of a younger generation between early teenagers to mid-twenties, meaning that the young and impressionable mind could be vulnerable to the ideas and beliefs of new campaign groups. The groups use advertisements in order to attract the attention of those using these sites, which appear on the screen to influence the user to click and follow the movement and familiarize themselves with the group. The groups can even target the interests of the individual by viewing their account and reaching out to that individuals likes and dislikes, for example if someone shows an interest in a sport on these sites, then adverts which relate to that sport pop up at the side of the screen. Similarly, other users who have the same interest or beliefs can see this and can view an individual’s profile. Social media now plays a huge role in campaign movements. In relation to the 2010 student protests, those who were campaigning for the students would target all those who put their occupation as ‘student’ on these sites. Because of this the students could be targeted and persuaded into believing that protesting was the best and only option in order to prevent the rise in fees.
“Because of the enormous impact of networks on societal and cultural development (Castells, 2000; Galloway & Thacker, 2007), social media represent a potentially new form of persuasive communication and one that needs to be addressed in new ways by new media and communication scholars.” (Deen and Hendricks, 2011)
The campaigners could set up their own pages and accounts where they would upload meeting times, locations and their own propaganda such as posters and edited images. It is also open to those who do not use social media sites. The image below is an example of a student’s movement site on Facebook which can be accessed by anybody, with or without Facebook. It includes a description of what it is the site is setting out to achieve, updates of protests, locations of the protests and images to motivate and persuade those who view it.
(Image from Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/events/829090060516898/)
The student protest and their continuing campaigns were the first example of how social media influenced changes in the way campaign group’s recruited new members. The next example takes the social media method, and applies it in a more sinister yet effective way. Currently in the news Islamic State (IS) is causing havoc across the world. The way in which they have been successful in recruiting new members is a combination of religious motives and again social media. IS have been using Facebook and Twitter to target young men and women in a bid to tempt them into joining the group. The group target the accounts and use religion as their main subject, claiming that Islam needs the help of that individual. The tactics are essentially to lead the person into feeling guilty that they are not doing enough for their religion. They target young Islamic women who again may be impressionable and trick and manipulate them into leaving their lives all over the world, and travel to Syria to marry IS fighters. The group have set up twitter accounts which update the world of their actions, because there is such a vast number of the worlds population using twitter, the accounts receive a lot of views and in turn, a lot of support. Because of this many individuals are being made constantly aware of IS which can lead to them being interested and wishing to find out more. Once people start showing an interest the group soon catch on and start to target those who seem to agree with their motives and ideas.
“Isis has launched a social media campaign and is posting (mainly on Twitter) photos and statements to highlight its military strength and territorial advances in Iraq.” (Irshaid, 2014)
Isis however are not only using social media. As stated earlier in the assignment, most people have a television set in the household meaning that news and media can be seen regularly. IS are aware of the attention they have received as a result of terrorist attacks they have committed. Because attacks such as the Charlie Hebdo attack and the very common and barbaric beheadings of innocent people are spread across the media and newspapers, more people are exposed to the beliefs of IS. Statements released by IS, attempt to justify their actions which can mislead individuals into agreeing with the group. Videos released by IS are easily accessible online and can lure young men and women into believing in the cause. The way in which IS use their propaganda videos and advertise their lies and fake promises, is something, which the world has never seen before. Unfortunately the way IS recruit is working. For example, three schoolgirls fled the UK in a bid to join IS and become wives. They were not the first and have not been the last.
"We are concerned about the numbers of girls and young women who have or are intending to travel to the part of Syria that is controlled by the terrorist group calling themselves Islamic State. (Metropolitan Police Commander Richard Walton)” (Sky News, 2015)
The propaganda is working and is very effective in recruiting the new members IS desire so much. The example of IS is as modern as it could possibly get. It is still an on going campaign with numbers of followers and recruits growing everyday. Even though IS have carried out terror attacks and devastated much of the world, their campaign and recruitment has been incredibly successful. They have adapted to the modern times and are using it to their advantage. Their use of propaganda has arguably been the most successful in history.
In conclusion, I believe that the success of the campaigns above have been as a result of very well crafted and engineered propaganda. Obviously there is more to a campaign than just promotion and propaganda. However without propaganda, the ideas and motives of a campaign would struggle to be placed in the public view, which is where possible new members or supporters are found. The ways in which campaign groups have used propaganda has changed over time, however some methods still remain to be the same. As discussed the suffragettes turned to violence in order to create a public spectacle in order to publicise their campaign, which is similar to what IS and the students did in order to grab the attention of the media to put their movement out there for the world to see. Hitler and Nazi Germany made the German people feel victimised and scared, much like how IS operate to influence their followers. The biggest change has been the use of social media, Internet and technology. If these did not exist then the campaign groups of today would have used such propaganda as those before them. It is because of this change that campaigns can become so powerful and successful in recruiting new members.