As much as we’d like our advocacy campaigns to always go as planned, the reality is they generally don’t! We often need to respond and adapt to factors beyond our control. This means that the campaign phases and planning tips below are just guides to help you think through some of the things you could do, knowing you may not do them all and may not always do them in order.
Identify the goal, why it’s important, who might work with you and how you’ll run the campaign…
- Before starting your planning, ensure everyone is clear about the goal. What is the problem? What are you trying to change?
- What are the steps or milestones that take you in the direction of your goal?
- Who is likely to support you?
- Who else has done work on the problem?
- How will you get the work done and ensure people stay in touch?
- Call a meeting of potential supporters to discuss the goal and seek their involvement.
- Speak to those that have already acted on the issue to find out what they have done.
- Form a steering group to lead the campaign. Start to consider how the group will work (e.g. roles and responsibilities, communication, decision making).
Gain a deeper understanding of the issue and the stakeholders and planning your communications and actions for maximum impact…
- Who are the decision makers that can give you what you want? What’s their policy agenda? Who influences them?
- Identify your stakeholders -who in your local area is affected by the issue or will be affected if you achieve your goal? Are they potential allies or opponents?
- Who might work against you? What is the other side of the story and how can you win people over, or at least neutralise them?
- How can you best frame your issue for maximum impact and “buy in?”
- Talk to locals about their views on this issue. You could hold 1:1 meetings, attend existing local meetings or call a forum to explore the issue. Use the process to flush out supporters, real life stories that demonstrate the problem and potential media spokespeople.
- Find statistics relevant to the issue.
- Talk to local councillors and MPs to present the stats and ask their view on the issue.
- Hold a brainstorming session to identify all stakeholders and conduct a power analysis.
- Based on your power analysis, identify the most important stakeholders to focus on and how you can bring them on board, or neutralise their opposition.
- Hold a brainstorming session to consider your key communication messages. What are you key messages, how will you refute your opponents views and how can you best frame your issue?
Make the issue and your campaign visible, bring people on board publicly and grow your supporter base…
- What strategies and activities could you use to help achieve the advocacy goal?
- Will you use the media? What kinds? How will you ensure you use the media strategically to further your cause?
- Identify Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) to focus on what might work best:
Strengths: What does/can your group do particularly well or what do you possess of special value that will benefit the campaign?
Weaknesses: What is your group not particularly good at that may limit the project; where are your problem areas?
Opportunities: Are there any external factors that you may be able to take advantage of or use for leverage, or connect or associate with in any way that would enhance your campaign?
Threats: What threats is your group likely to face?
- Lobby your local politicians or decision makers (e.g. hold a street stall, or host an online petition to gather community support and present this to your decision maker).
- Hold a local forum and invite decision makers to hear how the issue affects local people. Consider inviting the media to cover the forum and bring attention to your issue.
- Consider a role for social media and what channel would best suit your issue.
- Write local position papers containing local stories – use this as a reason to secure a meeting with local decision makers.
- Develop a media release with a clear call for people to get behind your campaign and how they can do so.
- What else? Think outside the box!
MONITORING & EVALUATION
Monitor what is and isn’t working and change tactics accordingly, keep records and decide when it’s over…
- Is your strategy working?
- What’s not working?
- Do you need to try something different?
- What support do you have?
- Have you reached some of the steps or milestones that you have set?
- Do you need to keep a watching brief to make sure gains are not eroded?
- What lessons have been learnt?
- Have there been any unintended benefits?
- Where to from here?
- Call a meeting to get feedback on how things are going.
- Write up a report on where the campaign is up to and send it out to supporters.
- Make sure you keep a record of what you have done.