Earlier this month I ran a two day advocacy training workshop in Prague for the country directors of PIN, People in Need, the Czech based international NGO. If you haven’t heard of PIN before they are well worth checking out – they were set up by student leaders shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s to share the Czech experience of contending with change and transition.
I was interested at this workshop to see how the potentially conflicting disciplines of advocacy campaigning and communications were raised as a topic for discussion. To my mind there is no need for conflict with these two disciplines. There will be some work which will be just advocacy, such as private lobbying on an issue. There will be some work, which will just be communications, such as communicating to promote a new service in the media. And then there will be some work which will require both advocacy and communications efforts to be integrated for maximum impact, such as raising the issue in the media whilst also lobbying politicians.
The critical question at any particular stage is what activities are required by your campaign in terms of advocacy and communications, and then you need to respond accordingly. Respect the differences but value when they can be integrated for maximum impact.