Phases of an Advocacy Campaign
How to...Identify your Goal
How to...Identify Stakeholders and Partners
How to...Map Power
How to...Conduct Research
How to...Develop and Deliver your Message
How to...Create an Action Plan
How to...Evaluate your Actions
How to...Listen and Ask Questions
How to...Build and Maintain Coalitions
How to...Lead Effective Meetings
How to...Work with Elected Officials
How to...Work with Media
How to...Write a Press Release
How to...Conduct a Media Event
How to...Give an Interview
Special thanks to Joel Spoonheim for his counsel and use of materials created by Civics, Incorporated (Minnesota, USA). Many thanks also go to our colleagues Maksuma Topalovic, Mirjana Penava, Zoran Catic, and Hasan Topalovic, as well as the CRS BiH and FRY teams.
For more information, contact CRS at 033/205-827 or email@example.com or Muhameda Kantardzica 3, Sarajevo.
Being an activist in your community is exciting work. It means finding a hopeful vision of the future, and working with others to achieve it.
Advocacy - the process of citizens working together to create a change in policy, legislation, or institutions - is not rocket science. Most of us already have the skills we need because we do advocacy every day. Children advocate with their parents for the chance to stay out late on Friday night. Husbands advocate with their wives for the chance to watch Formula rather than fix the plumbing. In these situations, as well as in public advocacy, the only tools we need are communication combined with a bit of strategy. This handbook is designed to help you strengthen those skills you already have so that you arc more effective in deciding on your campaign goal and reaching it. Read on and keep speaking up!
An advocacy campaign is designed to create a change in legislation, policy, or institutions. It has many phases, and these phases overlap. Advocacy is a dynamic process where you take advantage of opportunities as they come up, so
often the phases are repeated. Alternatively, in some situations there is no need or no time for certain phases. Use those tools which are appropriate to your situation and goal.
Phase One - Identifying the Goal
Phase Two - Working with Partners
Phase Three - Broadening Awareness and Building Public Support
As appropriate, use the following methods:
Phase Four - Placing Presure on Opposition
Phase Five - Celebrating and Evaluating
Not establishing a clear and specific goal is the most common mistake made by activists. On the other hand, clear goals which are connected to a larger vision draw supporters. Dreams motivate you as well as others. Other guidelines for setting goals include:
The following steps help clarify a goal:
Sustainability is an important outcome for advocacy. Making a change that does not last is not very useful or inspiring. Upholding certain values increases the likelihood of sustainability.
Democracy: Democracy is about people being involved in decision making. It can happen in an office, a neighborhood, or in a government. It is important because it allows people to share their ideas. How often does a president of a company really know how to improve the work of the staff? How committed are staff to a goal if they are not involved in setting the goal? Democracy builds commitment and allows for greater creativity. Practicing democracy in our daily institutions also prepares people to be better able to participate as citizens of their nation.
Human Capacity: Every person has the ability to learn, grow, and contribute ideas. As challenging and time consuming as it may be, good leaders always seek ways to learn from people and to create an environment where everyone can learn and contribute.
Active Citizen: A citizen is any person who belongs to an organization (work, community, religious group). Being a citizen is not just limited to belonging to a country. As a citizen one has rights, but also responsibilities. This value reminds us that in a democracy the citizens are the solution to our problems.
After setting your goal, the next step is to consider who is involved in the issue. Create a list of all people, organizations (preferably listing specific staff), etc. who might be impacted by the problem or opportunity. Include supporters and opponents of your work. This list will change over time, so keep updating it as you learn more.
Ask yourself the following questions:
Then, list their:
have to solve
It is often helpful to also list who from the core advocacy team knows the stakeholders or is contacting them.
This list will help you identify allies/friends as well as opponents and fence-sitters (those who have not taken a position on the issue). Your next task will be to choose which allies to work closely with as partners (see coalition building tip sheet). You will also have to educate yourselves on your opponents' attitudes and plans so that you can respond effectively. Finally, you may decide to convince fence-sitters to join you. In this case, a thorough understanding of their interests and motivations will help you.
To attain your goal, you have to influence the people who have decisionmaking power on your issue. There are two main types of power: formal and relational.
Formal power is what people in recognized authority have. For example, the executive director usually has more formal power than the assistant director.
Relational power is about who has relationships to people or resources that can impact a problem. For example, a project assistant may know the people involved in a certain community much better than the regional director.
Power mapping strives to draw these different powers to help advocates identify with whom to work.
Clarifying a goal and identifying the stakeholders also requires more research. Good research is a very powerful tool because you gain knowledge. Knowledge creates one form of power. Accurate research allows you to:
There are two types of research you will need to do - process research and issue research. To do research, ask your-self two questions. What do we need to know? Then define the question you arc researching narrowly so that you only obtain relevant information. Next ask how do we get that information? This information can include data and analysis of the issue, the current legal or policy environment, opinion polls and surveys, and stories around the issue.
For process research you must know the following:
Who makes decisions?
For issue research you must know the background of the problem, whom it affects, what its effects are, possible solutions, and what will happen if nothing is done. Research requires finding or creating resources to demonstrate a problem and possible solutions. It could include drafting a new program or rule or law to recommend instead of the current situation.
There are two types of message to be developed - your basic, core message which motivates your entire campaign, and the variations of this message which are tailored to the specific audiences which you are trying to reach (such as the general public, a specific segment of the public, elected officials, international donors, etc.)
Developing your Message
The core message is a brief statement that answers the following questions:
The tailored message is a brief statement of your core message,
but created for a specific audience, based on an analysis of:
There are a few basic principles of message development.
Delivering your Message
You've got your goal. You've identified all those with an interest in the issue. You've analyzed these stakeholders for allies, opponents, and fence-sitters. You've decided on whom you'd like to partner with. You've researched how decisions on your issue are made, and you've studied the issue from all sides.
Now it's time to create your action plan.
A good tool is a SWOT analysis. Brainstorm a list of your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This gives you a pitcure of the current situation, both internally (your organization's strengths and weaknesses) as well as externally (the opportunities and threats posed by outside actors). A SWOT analysis looks like this:
Now that you can see what you have to work with and how, match these lists against your goal to generate a list of next steps. For example, CRS Bosnia is trying to facilitate civil society involvement in a World Bank initiative. A strength we've identified is our wide network of grassroots connections, and an opportunity is that World Bank staff in BiH support our efforts. A threat, however, is that the BiH government is not running a transparent process. Our next step, therefore, is to request a meeting with representatives from the government and the World Bank in order to explain why it is in all our interests to pool resources in developing this initiative.
This list of activities will continue to grow, as the campaign evolves. Typical action plans look like this:
Evaluation of your efforts is crucial to your success. Evaluation should be done not only at the end of a campaign as you consider starting a new one, but also during the campaign to determine whether you need to change tactics.
Demonstrating your success will help you remain motivated and build new partnerships, so consider how and when to boast!
After every activity, ask yourselves the following questions:
Public evaluation of your efforts is a strong method for creating trust and accountability with partners and the public. At the end of coalition meetings or public activities, ask the group what went well in the activity and what could have been done better. Use that feedback in designing your next meeting or event. You'll improve your own effectiveness and more people will feel ownership of the process and contribute their efforts.
Building partnerships is key to working with allies, media representatives, and government officials. Identifying shared interests is key to building relationships. Listening well to the other person's hopes and concerns is key to identifying shared interests. Here are some suggestions for developing your listening skills:
Once you have learned how to keep yourself from speaking, the art of asking questions is the shortcut to effective listening. Here are some tips for asking questions:
Building a coalition takes time, but can be worth the investment. Working with others can give you extra resources and skills which you may not have on your own. It can build your credibility by demonstrating widespread interest in your issue. It can help maintain motivation by providing you with support as well as a way to divide the labor. It can enhance your effectiveness by allowing you to exchange experiences with others.
To build a coalition successfully, keep two things in mind:
Characteristics of effective coalitions (as noted by the Advocacy Institute):
Working in coalition with others is a powerful strategy. However, it is also time sensitive and takes commitment and flexibility. Therefore it is important to build coalitions early and find a way to maintain relationships over time. Defining roles and responsibilities at the beginning is an important step. Clearly it is difficult to keep people focused if there is no shared near-term purpose, but even informal conversations on a monthly basis can be sufficient for maintaining open channels of communication.
There are two key cases where working through a coalition may be more difficult. One is where time is of the essence and it is hard to get others involved. That is why having base relationships in place ahead of time is useful. If you cannot wait to engage others, it is critical to keep them informed of your actions. For example, even after a long day, fax them a quick letter telling them of your actions. It is important to try not to surprise allies, because it may make them feel excluded.
The second case is when people in a partnership or coalition may not have the same desired outcome as you. In fact they may want opposing outcomes. In this case, it is also critical to maintain open lines of communication with them if you want to maintain the relationship for the long term. Additionally, all efforts must avoid "demonizing" or attacking your partners and instead stay focused on the issue.
Effective meetings, whether within your organization or involving outside partners, are key to building a successful advocacy campaign. To lead them well, remember the following:
Core Advocacy Team Meetings (those 2-5 people most involved in the campaign) should also evaluate:
Campaigns to change or create policy at some point or another will require meeting with elected officials. Your cur-rent and future policy goals are best met by maintaining constructive, positive relationships with officials. Therefore you should view meeting with them as an opportunity to:
There are three steps - before the meeting, during the meeting, and after.
Before the meeting:
Prepare your Delegation
Prepare your Presentation
During the meeting:
After the meeting:
How to...Work with Media
Media - whether print, broadcast (TV/radio), or electronic - is your gateway to a wider audience. It can be used to build public awareness about your issue, to generate wider support for your positions, and to pressure decision makers. Do remember, however, that media is not under your control and your message may get changed as it goes out.
There are ways to increase your ability to shape your own message. Getting media coverage is a common problem for activists, and the way to deal with it is the same as you deal with any other coalition building effort. Establishing relationships is key. Be a resource for journalists by providing them with timely, interesting stories and data.
1) First, figure out why you want the media involved. Is it general awareness building about the program? Is it to recruit members? Is it to influence the legislature a certain way?
2) Based on your goal, identify the right form of media. For general awareness building, it may be best to get a 15 second spot on local TV. For membership recruitment, it may be best to have a longer segment on a more conversational program (radio or TV). For influencing legislature, it may be best to get editorials or articles in newspapers.
3) Once you've identified the form of media that is most appropriate, it's important to identify which particular journalist or editor covers those issues. Directing your information to a specific person is much more likely to generate a response than a general request.
4) Once you've identified the person, think about what sort of information they are looking for and why. Do they need to make a certain filing deadline every day or week? If so, make sure that your event or information reaches them in time to make that deadline. Are they responsible for covering certain issues? If so, explain how your event connects to what they are responsible for covering - "spin it" to their viewpoint; if the news is about pressures on how to divide the municipal budget, you could start your announcement with how parents, teachers, and students are volunteering their time to improve their school.
5) Prepare yourself. Clarify purpose of the message. Is it to recruit, educate, change people's behavior, etc.? Write out key points in easily understood language. Never use acronyms.
6) Related to this targeting is the concept of a "hook". Certain events occur which the media knows in advance it has to cover, and is looking for ways to do so: local elections, opening of governmental sessions, first day of school, etc. These larger events can be used as a hook to get the media interested in covering your event. Plan for this by staging press-getting activities around such events.
7) Finally, communication with the media should be kept short and sinple. Convey basic info in a few sentences and leave a contact number for them to call for more once they're intrigued.
The first contact with media when doing advocacy is to build a relationship. Be prepared to answer the following types of questions:
The second meeting is usually to provide more examples and details. Have more stories available about the current problem and how the solution will help. When possible, have information about other models.
For more specific ways to interact with the media, see tip sheets on press releases, interviews, and media events.
Press releases are a quick way to let media know about an event or an opinion which your organization holds. An effective press release is:
Sample Press Release
CRS - Catholic Relief Services
Parents and Teachers Grade Ministry of Education
Bugojno, Sept.2, 2006 - Parents and teachers of 3 schools in the Bugojno area graded the performance of the Ministry of Education today, giving high marks for cooperation but low marks for use of modern teaching techniques.
"My daughter is starting secondary school today, and I want to make sure she gets the most out of these next years. My colleagues and I analyzed the performance of the Ministry of Education. We found that they are strong in listening to concerns of parents. However, they need to improve their ability to use modern teaching techniques. My daughter will not learn much if she only listens to dry lectures filled with unnecessary details. She will learn much more if she has to explore ideas with her peers through hands-on science projects, and we want the Ministry of Education to promote such interactive learning techniques" said Mirsad Nalic, a member of the Bugojno Parent-School Council.
Other issues which the Parent-School Councils graded were the quality of classroom equipment and the ways in which resources were allocated. The councils were formed in September 2000 with help from CRS, an American humanitarian organization. Each council consists of 4 parents, 4 teachers, and 2 students, and together work to improve the educational opportunities in their schools.
For more information contact Aida Pivic, Bugojno Parent-School Council spokesperson: tel: 22 234 456; fax: 22 234 457; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Media events can cover a range. Most basic is a press conference on a breaking issue such as a new report with surprising findings, a response to important current events, or an announcement of support for your campaign by a celebrity. The media love images and stories, so events can also be stunts or photo opportunities or street theatre which demonstrate your point of view. Rallies and demonstrations are also frequent media events.
When planning a media event, make it an EVENT!!!
Talking to media is like talking to anyone else in your campaign. Prepare your message and repeat it often.