So, you have decided you need to create a public advocacy campaign, great! Now what?
Step 1. Determine your goal.
Campaigns will be vastly different depending on their target. Review Topic #4: on Types of Public Advocacy and select the type of strategy you think will be the most effective for the type of change your organization would like to see.
Step 2. Evaluate your resources – both financial and people power.
What is a truly reasonable budget for what your organization wants to accomplish? A public advocacy campaign can start simply by asking volunteers to send an email or make a meeting with their legislators, but more complicated or time-constrained campaigns may require experienced help. For more info on that, see Topic #9 on Selecting and Managing Professional Support.
Step 3. Send a clear message.
Once you know what it is you want to accomplish, draft a simple message that is easy to understand. It’s tricky for those of us who are experts in our fields but try to remember that the key is to quickly and clearly convey the change you would like to see to people who have never heard of the issue before. For more info on how to do this well, see Topic #7 on Messaging Matters.
Step 4. Set up trackers and tracking systems.
If you are looking to change a law in Pennsylvania, the legis.state.pa.us website will be your best friend. Sign up for an account here, so that you can get email alerts for bills introduced with your set keywords, track committee meetings, and get alerted every step of the way. If your organization is trying to pass a federal law, check out this guide and the options for tracking legislative developments. For local ordinances or corporate policy change, set up an internal tracking document to keep track of outreach efforts, dates for follow up, and any important meetings like municipal voting meetings and shareholder meetings.
Step 5. Mobilize Your Supporters.
Host a meeting to explain what you would like to do, share with your supporters contact information for their elected officials or show them how to find them, share your fact sheet, and soon you will have an effective advocacy team ready to go.
Step 6. Launch!
Next, in Topic #6, we explain the launch process.