8 Steps to Good Advocacy

  1. Define Your Goals
  • What needs changing?
  • Long term/short term?
  • What do we want to ask for? Does it require change to:
    • Legislation
    • Policy
    •  Regulation
    • Programs
    • Funding
  1. Know Your Audience
  • Multi-layered: policy makers, media, key constituencies, public
  • Different strategies for each target – research
  • Provincial and Territorial governments, health authorities and general public
  1. Craft Your Message
  • Be clear on what you are asking
  • Keep it simple and focused
  • Use positive language
  • Tailor message to audience – research
  • Appeal to audience’s self-interest
  • Acknowledge environment/context- be pragmatic
  • Make the case
  • Look at the problem, the solution(s) and the benefit(s)
  • Be consistent
  • Distribute clear concise position statements
  • Use evidence – facts carry more weight than anecdotal evidence
  • Economic arguments are important
  1. Identify the Messenger
  • The target audience will determine the messenger
    • For example: approach MPs as constituents
  • Champions will also become messengers
  • Media is best handled by a designated person(s)
  1. Identify Delivery Methods
  • Advocacy is relationship building
  • Tactics change by target audience
  • Tactics to reach general public
    • Ads
    • Media stories
    • Editorials
    • Awareness campaigns
    • Local events
  • Tactics to reach media
    • Choose right communication tool
    • Press releases, Op-Ed, press conferences, letters
    • Use positive language
    • Make sure sources are credible
    • Make sure information is timely
    • Localize the issue
    • Accent human interest angle
    • Demonstrate support
  • Tactics to reach political level of government
    • Meetings with elected officials – follow up
    • Letter writing campaigns then follow up in person
    • Distribute background documentation proving case
    • Petitions
    • Appear before Caucus
    • Appear before a Parliamentary Committee
  • Tactics to reach departmental level of government
    • Meet with departmental employees responsible for issue
    • Meet with other government employees that may have an interest in the issue
    • Be prepared with discussion information and background info that they can use to make the case within government
  1. Identify Resources and Gaps
  • Do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis
  • Build on existing resources and opportunities
    • Alliances, relationships, information, political intelligence, capacity of staff, opportunities
  • Develop capacities which are lacking
    • Research, media, outreach
  1. Plan Next Steps
  • Identify achievable goals that set stage for larger work
  • Include in the advocacy strategy/plan
    • Priority area
    • Action
    • Target
    • Timelines
    • Partners
    • Resources
    • Critical path or Next Steps
  • Set out clear steps – including timelines
  • Be clear on who needs to do what and when
  • Communicate the plan with partners
  • Be flexible
  • Keep focused on long term goal
  1. Evaluate Effectiveness
  • Regularly revisit each of the steps to make sure the strategy is effective
  • Discard any tactics which are not working and build on those that do
  • Re-evaluate as new opportunities and challenges emerge
  • Communicate changes internally
  • Communications are key!
  • Build a coalition of voices
  • Planning is crucial
  • Positive messaging is important
  • Advocacy is about relationship building