Whether you're running a one-off campaign or are a dedicated advocacy organisation, it's vital to have internal communication structures in place. This means communicating your thoughts, messages and ideas clearly, and providing the appropriate structures for information to be disseminated within the organisation.
There are many methods that can be used to ensure that members, staff and volunteers are kept up to date with what is happening in your organisation. This internal communication is vital if you want to ensure ongoing support. It also facilitates a more efficient workplace with a greater amount of internal collaboration.
Below we've outlined a few of the main communication methods you can use. They each have their unique features, so pick and choose the ones that suit you and your purposes best.
Sometimes dedicated advocacy organisations will have a 'campaign coordinator' whose main role is to communicate to the organisation what the various campaigns are doing and try to minimise doubling up. This can be a full-time job.
The benefits of a campaign coordinator are hard to overstate, and if your operations are big enough to warrant one they generally constitute money well spent. A good campaign coordinator will easily pay for him/herself in creation of efficiency and effectiveness.
Many organisations run weekly meetings involving all staff members so that everyone knows what everyone else is up to. These meetings usually take the format of someone senior outlining the broader organisational direction, followed by everyone else telling the group what they will be up to for the rest of the week. This way everyone keeps up to date with what's happening around the office.
'My Week' email
Similar to the weekly meetings is a 'my week' email. The 'my week' email works by everyone in the office sending around an email with 'my week' or something similar in the subject heading. The email explains what key tasks you have for the week (it's often a good idea to add in any meetings you have so that people know when you'll be out of the office, and for how long).
This option is particularly favoured when weekly meetings are physically harder to do for geographic or time-related reasons.
Phone hook ups
If you organisation is spread across the country a periodic phone link-up can be a good way of keeping everyone informed (and it's a lot cheaper than meeting face-to-face). Most phone companies offer a virtual meeting option; contact your phone provider for more details.
Advocacy is usually a hard slog. There will always be conflicting ideologies, tactics, and egos, all mixed in with a healthy dose of attachment to an issue. More often than not this passion is inspiring. However, sometimes campaigns collapse because of the friction these things can create.
Be polite and to treat everyone with respect in order to keep harmony and remain effective. As they say in football, play the ball, not the man.
It's important to be aware that different communication methods have different nuances. For example, it's estimated that 80% of emails are read with a different tone to the one the writer intended. What was intended to be humourous can be read as offensive; what was intended to be brief can be read as curt or dismissive; what was intended to be informative can be read as hectoring.
Some people develop strict guidelines for mailing lists and monitor them heavily, deleting any comments that contravene the guidelines. Others just let people sort things out individually and hope that readers have a thick skin. It's a fine balance, and you certainly don't want to stop the flow of ideas. Do keep the possible risks in mind, and if necessary step in to avoid a potential disaster before everything explodes and all is lost.