A strategic communications reading list for campaigners

An open book with a notebook infrton

Why have we made this list?

As a campaigner or PR person, it’s very easy to feel lost in your day to day work. When you’re churning out press releases or spending time compiling web analytics reports, it’s easy to inadvertently publish counter-productive messages or spend to much time on the wrong activities.
This explains the growing movement within the sector towards strategic communication: conscious, considered, and scientifically sound. But for those wanting to take a step back and find fresh strategic impetus, it can be difficult to know where to turn. To meet this need, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite books and guides which cover every key campaign communications stage, from planning to implementation.
With this compilation of books and guides, we’re hoping to offer campaigners and progressive communicators somewhere to turn when things aren’t going as planned.

This list ought to help with questions such as:

  • Are we using the right type of messaging and invoking the values we want to see in the world?
  • Do the latest psychological insights back up our theory of change?
  • Are we letting our personal biases and favourite comms tactics dictate our campaign strategy, or should we take a step back?
  • How do we plan and evaluate against long term social change objectives, rather than short term fundraising or advocacy goals?
  • This list also contains resources which answer more tactical questions too:
    We’re producing lots of content, but can we be sure it’s ultimately advancing our cause? How do we conduct audience testing to make sure?
  • How do we get lots of supporters to send a unified message which is both loud and clear?

What we’ve included

This list starts with some of the most popular non-fiction works of the modern era on behavioural psychology. From there, it gets more and more practical. It offers our favourite picks on campaign strategy, before moving into tactics, implementation and later into evaluation following the typical plan, implement and reflect cycle which campaigns teams typically follow.

Plus, it contains some of our favourite subject-specific resources on framing the economy, nature, housing and other social justice issues. This is a non-exhaustive list and is our first iteration.

We hope you’ll send your comments to hello@thesocialchangeagency.org if you think we’ve missed anything, so we can update it over time.

Strategic communications reading list for campaigners