What is “Issue Advocacy?” Those of us who have built our careers in the profession are asked this question constantly. We’ve all been at that family event, dinner party or happy hour when the standard question about what one does for a living kicks off the banter. Most answers need no explanation.
“I’m a doctor.”
“I’m a realtor.”
“I’m a teacher.”
But my answer—“I’m in issue advocacy”—is almost always met with either blank stares or follow-up speculation.
“Oh, you’re a lobbyist!”
“Oh, you’re in advertising!”
“Oh! Wait, you’re in what?”
More concerning still, many opinion leaders and decision makers in Washington, London, and Brussels—the very people working in the arena of public affairs and politics—oftentimes don’t really know what “issue advocacy” means.
So here goes…
Issue Advocacy (n): comprehensive communications campaign strategy and tactics that advocate for, against or to neutralize a policy issue that is designed to impact a business, association or individual
With a handy definition like that, I must be the life of any party. Am I right?
What might be easier, more interesting—and perhaps infinitely more helpful—would be to outline what “issue advocacy” isn’t.