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11. PESTLE - External Analysis



A Primary Tool

Description and Purpose:

The PESTLE analysis is a commonly used tool that sorts and analyses key factors from the external environmental that could impact upon the advocacy campaign. PESTLE stands for:

  • Political
  • Economic
  • Sociological
  • Technological
  • Legal
  • Environmental

The simpler PEST (political, economic, social and technological) is also used, but PESTLE is more appropriate to the advocacy environment.


List the environmental factors that could affect your advocacy campaign using the following categories. This can be done by brainstorming or other idea generating techniques. It can also be preceded by more thorough research into the external environment of your advocacy issue.

List the relevant political factors and trends in the country (including the government, legislature, judiciary and other government bodies, as well as other political movements and pressure groups). See Module 1: Research & Analysis.

List the economic factors and trends in the country (including GNP, debt schedules, sources of government income, main private sector employers, income distribution, etc.).

List the relevant sociological factors and trends in the country (including demographic information, education statistics, employment rates, land ownership, media, etc.). Consider including:

  • Factors contributing to animal welfare problems
  • The overall situation in the country as regards animal welfare

List the technological factors and trends in the country (including information technology infrastructure, access to telecommunications and broadcast media, etc.).

List the legal factors and constraints that are relevant to your advocacy work.

List the relevant environmental factors and trends in the country (including habitat destruction, weather patterns, resource availability, wildlife, agriculture, etc.)

When completing this analysis, carefully consider various driving forces in the environment, for example, increasing competition, changing demographics, etc..

Having listed all the factors, you should then identify which of these may be significant to your work – either as opportunities or threats. You should then take account of these factors in your planning, and possibly do more research on the factors.

From these factors, identify five key trends that you consider most important for your issue. You can do this by ranking and sorting, voting, or by discussion and agreement. Bring these five into your strategic analysis, particularly into analysis of ‘critical issues’ at the beginning of the ‘strategic choice’ stage.

Do not forget the following:

The success of an advocacy campaign can be greatly influenced by the external environment. Each advocacy environment is different and always changing. Therefore, environmental monitoring needs to be an iterative process. Each environmental analysis should be individually tailored to suit the organization and its selected issue. However, here are some general factors that it might be useful to consider:

Political Openness
Advocacy campaigns, particularly campaigns focused on changing policy, are more likely to be effective in effective in more participatory and democratic political systems. Conversely, the more authoritarian a system is, the less likely it is that the government will respond to the issues put forward by an advocacy group. Access to key decision-makers in authoritarian political systems is also likely to be limited. This makes it difficult to advance campaign aims without a clever and appropriate strategy.

The Media
Media is an important advocacy tool to influence change. A vibrant and open public media, with freedom of speech, can play a significant role in generating public awareness and mobilizing citizens. When the media is controlled, the message and delivery of an advocacy campaign is limited. A censored media cannot easily expose activities or policies that contribute to disadvantage.

Cultural and Social Constructs
Some cultures and social groups are more tolerant of, and sympathetic to, advocacy campaigns and tactics than others. It is important to understand the cultural and social environment of a campaign. For example, in some cultures confronting decision-makers may be considered socially and politically unacceptable and such tactics may jeopardize the campaign.

Timing and Current Events
The success or failure of an advocacy campaign or strategy may depend on the timing of the implementation. It is important to be aware of certain opportune or inappropriate moments before engaging in advocacy activities. A clash with an unconnected high-profile event can lead to loss of media attention. On the other hand, some events, such as elections, international policy meetings or high-level conferences may provide a fitting occasion to highlight certain issues in an advocacy campaign.

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