Choosing Tactics

Maria's picture

Figuring out what to do about a particular issue can be the most challenging—and important—part of a campaign. The most effective advocacy strategy uses a diversity of methods, and the strategy you choose will depend largely on the issue and the political context. The following chart will help you decide which type of action to take.

Action

Why Choose this Action?

Potential Outcomes

Letter-Writing (individual)

You would like to clearly communicate to your MP the issue and what you would like to have done about it

A well-written and thoughtful letter can bring the issue to the MP’s attention

He will know that you have spent the time to research the issue and contact him

Letter-Writing Campaign

You have a good-sized support network

If the MP receives a large volume of letters, she will know that there are many people concerned about this issue

Calling your MP

The issue is familiar enough to the legislator, and to you, that you can get your point across in a five-minute conversation

Making a direct connection with your MP

Having an impact while using little time and resources

Meeting with your MP

Effective even if the issue is not well-known to the legislator and even if you do not have a large support network

If you have a petition to present to the legislator, it is a good idea to schedule a meeting in which to present it

A very effective method to get your message across to the MP

You may learn more about the MP’s position

You may learn more about how the MP can help you in your cause

Writing to a Cabinet Minister

You desire to see change in government policy (rather than in legislation)

Gives you access to the head of the relevant department, as well as access to the Cabinet, which is the executive decision-making body

Public Meeting

The issue affects many people but is also largely unknown

You would like to have a community discussion, or facilitate a debate between two officials

Builds public awareness and support

Makes elected officials and policy-makers take note

Petition

The issue is straightforward (essentially a yes/no question) and has widespread support

Demonstrates public concern for the issue

Can be read in the House by your MP and can influence a Parliamentary debate

Writing to your Local Newspaper

You would like to bring attention to a relatively unknown issue

You would like to comment (positively or negatively) on a newspaper article

You would like to make a public statement about what the government is, or is not, doing about an issue

Raise public awareness on the issue

May impact the way the local media handles an issue

Can catch the attention of your MP because he will know that you have been heard, especially if you challenge him directly in your piece

You can also write a piece in support of your MP’s position, which will encourage him to continue what he is doing

Doing a Demonstration

There is need for widespread exposure to the issue

Draws attention to the issue and gains public support. A quick way of demonstrating popular support for the cause to politicians

Writing a One-Page Brief

You anticipate contact with decision makers, media, and the public, and would like to send a consistent, accessible message to each

Provides your campaign with consistency and clarity

Gives others a quick way to find out about your campaign

Meeting with civil servants

Legislation is passed, but it needs to be implemented by a government department

You desire to see change in a government regulation or program (as opposed to a change in legislation)

Gives you access to those implementing legislation

 

Blogging

You feel you have a personal, unique perspective on the issue

You stay well-informed on the latest developments

You can reach a large number of people. If your blog is read widely enough, it will gain the attention of those in positions of power