Tailor your PROMOTION to achieve your ADVOCACY objectives!
Do you know what I would say regarding promotions and communications tools for advocacy? Welcome – here it is where policy advocacy starts for real, with activities directed to influence experts and decision-makers!
This is the crucial point that advocacy professionals are sometimes missing – advocacy is above all about influencing, and then about researching. Communication is indeed the most delicate aspect of advocacy and is far too much underrated. Indeed, a weak communication strategy could destroy all you have prepared, analysed and planned. That is why it is worth it to spend just a couple of words more on how to select the most suitable communication tools. Therefore, I’d like to propose you 3 main focus points!
Focus n° 1 – Messaging
Firstly, develop your messages wisely. I would personally advice to forget the “what” for once and think about the “how”. In fact, while planning your advocacy messages, the focus should be on how to communicate your research objectives, status or findings to get your target audiences interested, engaged and convinced. Of course, I assume that you absolutely know the “what” like the back of your hand! There is a big lesson I have learnt from my PR experience that I’d like to share with you – tailor your proposal! Shape your proposals to fit each specific audience, to ensure the issue is perceived as relevant from each of them. Breakdown all the main aspect of your project, identify the interest involved, highlight the benefits derived from your research and policy proposal and create a tailored message for each audience.
What is the current interest of this particular audience in relation to the policy issue?
What is the incentive or advantage to them? Why should they be interested in your proposal?
What are their hopes and fears related to the issue?
Focus n° 2 – Message accessibility
Please, do not forget that not all your target audiences have your level of expertise and share the same language as yours. You are talking with a multitude of audiences, and you should make your message accessible to all of them. This means that you should create different versions of the same content, with different format, different visuals and different words, depending on the audience. For example:
Research, working papers, reports & studies – your members and all the experts in the field that you are collaborating with are really into details and technicalities. They are specialist, surely having a deep technical knowledge and background in your policy area, and indeed, they want to read your full arguments, with evidence, background and research, including literature around it.
Briefs, memos, facts sheets, summary reports – decision makers, other policy professionals and some journalists are surely working in policy sectors, but they might be non-expert in your particular field, having a more heterogeneous background. Their interest is around the outcomes of your research, but they are tendentially not interested in all your research methods, background, details, comparisons, academic literature and so on.
Informative leaflets, infographics – remember what I said before – society is shaping policies and laws. It is very smart to inform the general public about your issue, making the findings of your research accessible also to those who are out from the policy bubble. They will need a straightforward, nontechnical language. That will surely not be your very fist target audience, but a broader target will enormously increase the level of interest, engagement and involvement in your issue, above all on a decision-making level. The society pressure is one of the most powerful weapons of revolution!
Different audiences require different languages in order to access to your findings. The best advice is to calibrate your language accordingly to the audience: think as a policy researcher, but do not advocate as one of them.
Focus n° 3 – Channels & tools!
The content should be delivered throughout different channels, via different communications tools, depending from the audiences. You can research forever, but you are only advocating when you start to properly speak up! You need to identify the “how” to deliver your message, practically engaging your audiences and achieving your advocacy objectives. Where to start? As always, look at your audiences! In selecting the communication channels and tools, chose the ones regularly used by your audience, make your content easily accessible, understandable, recognisable, suiting your audiences’ expectations.
Here you find a combination of communication tools, also taking into account the message accessibility, which you can use to deliver advocacy messages and really nail your advocacy objectives!
And you? Have you ever thought about hiring a real communication professional to strengthen your advocacy? Let’s discuss about it!
by Chiara Lamacchia