Strategic planning is the process of analyzing the current situation, setting goals for the future, and determining how to effectively reach those goals. Campaign planning is not a simple “prelude” to the actual campaign—it is of central importance to effective campaigning and should receive as much attention and effort as the subsequent campaign activities themselves. In fact, the success of a campaign is inherently linked to how rigorously it has been planned from the outset—analyzing the context, identifying problems and solutions, specifying target audiences and outlining an appropriate course of action all enhance the chances of reaching campaign goals (Coe & Kingham, Tips on Good Practice in Campaigning). Ideally, all members of the campaign team or alliance should be involved in planning, as well as key stakeholders, particularly representatives of the target audience.
This section describes the crucial first steps for a campaign —the research and analysis steps that must be taken to a) determine why or when to start a campaign, b) define the campaign issue (the problem), c) identify the necessary stakeholders to target or involve, and then d) develop an appropriate campaign approach that best responds to the issue. The following section explains how to develop the Campaign Strategy, the roadmap or course of action for effective campaign implementation.
Bear in mind:
Both campaign planning and campaign strategy processes can overlap, and in some cases even be interchangeable. One easy way of distinguishing between the two is: planning determines WHAT to do, while strategy determines HOW to do it.
In the case of campaigns, the planning stage asks the question: What needs to change? To answer, one will need an analysis of the situation and the specific problem to be addressed; a purpose to drive the campaign; and a vision for the future the campaign is intended to contribute to. The planning stage also asks the questions: How will the campaign contribute to change? And who are the key stakeholders? To answer, one will need to determine an appropriate theory of change, and conduct a thorough analysis of stakeholders. All of this lays the foundation for then developing a campaign strategy to focus on goals, outcomes and the types of actions that must be carried out (by whom, how and when). The strategy will also determine how to reach target audiences, and involve potential allies and participants in the campaign.
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