Using your Campaign Goals to Craft a Strong Advocacy Message
But First, What is an Advocacy Message?
Advocacy message development can be challenging, so we are here to help! You and your team will want to develop a consistent message that aligns with your values, but at the same time, you will want to craft one that will be applicable to any number of audiences you are reaching out to. You don’t want to string together run on sentences, but you also don’t want to miss any crucial information. Advocacy issues are usually complex, affect thousands (or millions) of people, and contain multitudes. How do we begin to boil all that down for messaging?
Okay – that was a lot! Let’s start at the beginning: What is a message? An advocacy message is a core statement that you would use to define your advocacy mission to the public. It will not be exhaustive of all the facets to your issue, it will not cover every detail, but it will include the most important components.
An advocacy campaign message is critical to ensuring folks understand what you are all about and what you want to accomplish. If your campaign is set apart from other groups working toward the same mission more broadly, it may be helpful to highlight that in your messaging. Do you use a different approach or method to achieve what other groups are also trying to achieve? Do you involve unique stakeholders that would set you apart from other groups?
Try to be engaging. Open with a statement that shows the reader that your group is passionate about this mission and energized to take action. Value-based messaging has been shown to effectively connect with audiences and even work to persuade audiences. Highlight a value that is nearly universal and directly tie it to your issue. Feel free to try out different layouts for your messaging and see what fits best. It’s important that your message feels genuine and accurate.
Crafting an advocacy message can also take a lot of time. Before getting started, answer some strategic questions to save time and avoid confusion: Who is the message speaking for? It’s important to include all necessary parties in this step. Make sure the key players in your movement are equally involved in this process. The last thing you want is to spend time crafting messaging only to realize not everyone is on board with content or word choice. Again, give this process time and know that is may require a bit of patience. A big whiteboard or online Jamboard may be useful during brainstorming sessions. It may also be helpful to spread out this process over two or three meetings, in order to let ideas take off.
What is your primary goal?
Understanding what your actual advocacy goal is will go a long way in developing an advocacy campaign message. If you can accurately state what your goal is, your advocacy campaign message will be more clear, concise, and precise. A more clear, concise, and precise campaign message is more likely to be remembered and accurately associated with your campaign. As always, it’s important to make your primary goal straightforward so that anyone glancing over your messaging can easily (and quickly) understands what you stand for.
What is your secondary goal?
It can take considerable amounts of time to achieve advocacy goals. Luckily, forming secondary goals can sometimes act as checkpoints along the way to a primary goal. This helps your campaign maintain a better way to judge perceived successes and failures. Crafting secondary goals can be useful to illustrate that success is rarely “all or nothing.” Secondary goals are often perceived to be more achievable, “lighter” lifts, but that doesn’t make them any less valuable. Even by achieving partial wins, or secondary wins, the movement moves forward and builds momentum that may help clinch the primary win in the future.
In order to achieve your secondary goals, you need to determine whom you will need to influence. It is key to understand who your audience is, and to whom are you talking. Once you have figured this out, creating your message will be a cinch.
Who do those folks listen to? Who are the folks that will be influential in this advocacy project? Is it the lawmakers themselves? Is it members of the government? Is it professionals in the field? Is it coalition groups? Understanding who the influencers are will also help you define your advocacy campaign message in a clear way.
An advocacy message emanates from your goals. Clearly define these primary goals, secondary goals, and the major players who can help you achieve your goals to craft your message. Enjoy this process! You get a chance to represent your advocacy team just the way you like, and that is a valuable thing. For more information on how to launch an advocacy campaign, check out our blog.
Any more tips on developing an advocacy message? Drop us a note. Advoc