When I think about the elements that need to be in place for a campaign to succeed. I imagine that each campaign needs to have a focus in four areas throughout the campaign. The campaign needs effective management, it needs the right policy, it needs an effective communication strategy and it needs the right network. These elements interplay with each other.
A great communications strategy can open up new policy options and build a new network. A strong network can achieve significant policy change with a very poor communication strategy. The perfect policy is not always good enough. There is no way around investing in developing each of these four elements. Effective management balances the tension between the communications team, the policy team and the network team. Having a good policy does not mean you have an effective communication strategy. Having effective network strategy does not mean you have figured out how to communicate about it or tested any kind of policy.
What I find most surprising is that we do not balance our investment and expertise in these areas. Most campaigns and nonprofits that I work with are too heavily focused on policy expertise. Boards, strategy staff, and the policy people that want to see change need to be more deliberate on establishing a better balance in their management structures to deal with the development of each of these three elements.
Across the board, on almost every campaign I see a need to focus management on bringing both communications and network strategist to the senior leadership table.
If your organization has the opportunity to develop the perfect policy, the perfect communications campaign, or the perfect network which do you believe provides you with the most strategic value to leverage towards success?