Two tried and tested ways of gaining policy influence are to:
Tool 9. Force Field Analysis
Formal linkages with other organizations (coalitions, networks and alliances) are dealt with in Module 4 – Networking & Alliances - but this is not the only way to increase your support base. Other options are to:
It is often easier to obtain this sort of support if your issue is high profile or popular. Media coverage can raise its profile, and thus its support base. Celebrities and high profile individuals can be keen to be associated with the ‘issues of the day’, as this will help their popularity.
Networks and alliances are usually formed from like-minded organizations, but unusual allies can also be useful to an advocacy campaign. Whilst motivations for support may differ, it will help your cause if more organizations are pressing for the same outcomes. For example, national slaughterhouses may support a campaign to ban the export of live animals. Think outside the box when considering potential allies – but beware of any potential risk to your reputation through ‘unholy alliances’.
As regards neutralizing your opposition, this entails knowing them well, in particular: their beliefs, motivations, weaknesses and limitations. You can neutralize by:
Both of these can be done verbally or practically (e.g. by using pilot studies).
You can also make the opposition a target of your advocacy, trying to convert them to your solutions.
A range of arguments can be used in support of different issues e.g.:
NB. It is often the case that whilst the higher arguments hold more moral force, the lower arguments hold more sway (as they directly affect vested interests). Influence can be gained through understanding these different arguments, and being able to use them effectively.
When you research your targets and opposition you will come across weaknesses (personal or role) that can be strategically exploited in order to gain influence. These might include:
Of course, these are simple generalizations. It is always preferable to know individuals, rather than making broad assumptions.
As far as political influence is concerned, remember that election time is ‘crazy season’! Prospective politicians will agree to much more, if they feel it will be beneficial to their election campaign. But consider very carefully before you make deals with politicians. You need to be committed to your cause for the long-term, and with credibility. You will need to be sure that any short-term deals do not bring risks to your work.
You will come across various prejudices as you try to influence others on your issue. These may include the following:
Possible ways to overcome/answer these prejudices are: