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Rough Guide Door Knocking

Rough Guide Door Knocking

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Published by David Spratt

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Published by: David Spratt on Jan 18, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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a rough guide to
on climate
JUNE 2010
“The weekend before last, I door-knocked with others in Newtown. It was the best thing I have done on climatefor ages… I started the day with a great deal of trepidation (my biggest fear was about not wanting align our movement with evangelical modes of building participation)… I walked away wanting to door-knock my wholesuburb… and maybe I will.”— Jenny Curtis, Balmain–Rozelle Climate Action Group, June 2010
Why door-knock?
Door knocking is easy, fun and one of the most effective ways of getting our messageinto the community and having an impact.
Research by the union movements “your rights at work” campaign established that door-knocking was a key factor in shifting public opinion and was the best tool used by the campaign.It is important to understand the primary purpose of door-knocking.In one word, it is to change the “vibe” of the electorate.Getting someone’s email for climate action groups contactlists, or their involvement in a forthcoming event or forum is useful, but it is the icing on the cake.What do we mean by the “vibe”? We know from marketing research and other campaigns that the more we canget a single idea or meme circulating and repeated, the more it will shift or sway opinion.Recently the term “internet meme” has been termed to describe “a catchphrase or concept that spreads rapidlyfrom person to person via the Internet, largely through Internet-based email, blogs, forums, social networking sitesand instant messaging”.Door-knocking is another means of spreading the catchphrase. A recent example of a meme is the way the term
“backip”, which was rst applied to Kevin Rudd’s decision to drop the CPRS, rapidly became a (derogatory)
description of his general political mode.In the Replace Hazelwood campaign, two key ideas we wanted to get through were that:
• “Kevin Rudd has backipped on climate change” and• “the government needs to replace Hazelwood”.
a rough guide to
on climate
about this guide
This rough guide was prepared by Damien Lawson and David Spratt for the
.The case study example used in these notes is the
door-knocking campaign conductedby a number of climate action groups in association with the Climate Action Centre in Melbourne’s inner-north
from May 2010 onwards, in the leadup to both State and federal elections in late 2010. The areas coveredare now marginal Labor–Greens seats. The specic scripts and messages of course depend on the specic
circumstances and locations.Our special thanks go to
and its members and volunteers who participated in and
co-organised the rst door-knocks in Brunswick during April and May 2010. The experience and feedback from
the 40 volunteers was important in developing some of the methods discussed in this guide.
a rough guide to door-knocking for climate action
So in talking to people, these ideas were connected as: “In this election year we are talking to people aboutthe need to replace Hazelwood Power station, Australia’s dirtiest power station, with clean energy. This is moreimportant than ever because Kevin Rudd has backipped on strong action on climate.” So just by knocking onpeople’s door and saying those key phrases and leaving a leaet, the main job is already done.Understanding this should give people condence that anyone can doorknock, because the main job is not to
convince people of a complicated proposition, but to get the meme in their heads. Even if they disagree and leavethe door and go back to the kitchen and say “some idiot about that power-station Hazlewood”, the door-knockinghas been successful because the idea is circulating.
So you don’t need to know everything about climate change or the specic issue or be an eloquent and convincingperson to be an effective door-knocker, you just need to give it a go and you will have been sucessful..
so what’s the topic?
The purpose of door-knocking is NOT to give people a big, long download on an issue. Most won’t listen for thatlong, and won’t remember most of what you said. Generally they will leave the conversation with two or threephrases in their head.In the Replace Hazelwood campaign they were “dirty coal ... Hazelwood ... replace ... clean energy... government
must act.. not backip”.This can be backed-up by a yer with some more information, an action people can take (make a phone call to apolitician, join a facebook group, visit a website etc), details about the local climate action group and/or information
about a forthcoming local climate event or forum. A petition (Appendix 1) is useful because it is simple action that residents can take on the spot (and some will sign
thinking its the quickest way to nish the conversation), and it also provides an effective way for people to opt in
and supply email or other contact details to build the local climate group’s communications circle.
For door-knocking to be effective, it is important to highlight a specic action that people can understand and thinkis (probably) feasible. So it is better, for example, to talk about replacing Hazelwood than just say “close down allcoal” because the latter has no specic target, and most people won’t believe that all coal can be closed down atonce. If most people feel that what you are saying is not practical/possible, and you cannot in a straight-forward
manner give them reasons to believe that it is, then the effort is wasted. Another way of thinking about are the so called
objectives used in strategic campaign planning andproject management - SMART stands for Specc, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound.Similarly whilst a door-knocking campaign might wish to highlight the need, for example, for 100% renewableenergy, it will get a better grip both on residents and on the local politicians if the specic message is about aparticular policy action. The meme is less about an idea (information) than an outcome (action) for which sufcient
community concern can be expressed or mobilised for the local political representatives to fear about their future if they ignore it.This is why we have also talked about Hazelwood being a “key election test”.It is also hard to talk about actions which are complicated in operation or terminology. That was one part of the
problem with the CPRS.
Establishing what is relevant to a local area depends on local knowledge and talking to local community activistsand leaders, but can also be informed by:
• recent polling
• focus-group research, particularly on what language and images are most effective
• research about communications and framing of ideas around climate.

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