Public Policy Communications

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Strategies for Action

Developing a Vision

A communications and cultural strategy that effectively galvanizes support must begin with a vision that draws people in and messaging that motivates them towards action. Much of the guidance below is written for people who are trying to move major legislation or a comprehensive strategy that tackles many issues at once. But, even if the change you want to make is very targeted, many of the questions below are still important.

Once you know what you are trying to accomplish (for help with this, see Defining a Shared Priority: An Introduction), developing a vision is about creating what Dr. Tiffany Manuel, CEO of The CaseMade, calls “an effective and compelling case for change.”14 According to Dr. Manuel (whose brilliant approach anchors this section), building a compelling case for your strategy rests on three key questions:

  • Why do our solutions matter?
  • Why do we have a collective responsibility to solve the issues?
  • What systemic changes are needed to advance better outcomes for all?

Answering these questions will help build public will to make substantive systemic changes. Moms4Housing brought a new sense of urgency to addressing rampant speculation by raising the visibility of homeless Black mothers and children. In a city where a sizable portion of the Black population faced displacement or homelessness, raising the profiles of Black families struggling with housing insecurity added important specificity that galvanized national support.

  • Why does their solution matter? Their solution appropriately targeted a specific problem: speculation is creating market pressure that’s pushing families out.
  • Why do we have a collective responsibility? Black families may bear the brunt of rising housing costs, but most working and middle-income Oaklanders are struggling with this issue.
  • What are the systemic changes that need to be made? The city is the only player with the authority and tools to systematically address the negative consequences of speculation. If the city can change how it handles vacant and abandoned properties, it may be able to rein in private market speculation and its effects on Oakland residents.

Similarly, against the backdrop of the pandemic, Occupy PHA and the Reclaimers elevated the importance of stable housing as a public health strategy, pointing to the need for public agencies to use all their resources to protect people with health risks through the crisis and beyond. Rather than focusing on data sets or pathologizing the behaviors of individuals in their communications strategies, the group answered Manuel’s three questions by providing a platform for people without housing to define the systemic ways private and public sector actions were exacerbating their circumstances and offer up meaningful solutions.