How can governance reforms overcome indifferent or even hostile public opinion? This short chapter from a book published by the Communications for Governance and Accountability Program outlines six practical steps to help reformers successfully communicate reform messages. It argues that successful advocacy campaigns need a combination of research, reason, reach, resources, record and review.
It is not uncommon for advocates of governance reforms to face either indifferent or hostile public opinion. The general public may not see the need for reform; either because they don’t see the issues as directly affecting their lives, or because they accept or even benefit from the status quo. The challenge for reformers is to galvanise enough support to carry forward reform objectives. A successful advocacy campaign requires a combination of the following:
- Research: It is also important for citizens to understand the issues at stake, and for reformer to understand the political and economic environment in which campaigns will be implemented. Linkage analysis (e.g. identifying links between business interests and reforms; the relationship of private interest groups and even regulators and policy makers with the media) will help reformers identify possible allies and adversaries in the reform effort.
- Reason: At the heart of any advocacy campaign is the message that one wants to impart to its target audience. In governance reforms, this message should satisfy one basic question: “What’s in it for me?”
- Reach: Reformers should be able to identify who they need to reach and how to reach them. In ‘communications speak’, this means knowing the target audience and appropriate communication tools.
- Resources: There should be sufficient resources for the campaign relative to the level of opposition being faced.
- Record: Successful messages should be recorded and repeated through other channels so as to amplify them.
- Review: The campaign should be reviewed for lessons learned.