So What?


September 30, 2016  • Aspen Planning and Evaluation Program

“So What?” – Your BI-Weekly Guide to Advocacy With Impact

Lovingly selected and lightly snarked by Team APEP: David Devlin-Foltz, Susanna Dilliplane, and Alex Gabriel

Listen, learn, share

This is excellent advice for everyone – even for your incoming kindergarten class. And for a foundation that is considering how to use its communications most effectively. And this is just what the Packard Foundation did in a recent research project with APEP. The listening? A survey and interviews with grantees to understand their perspectives on how the Foundation’s communications and “voice” can (or cannot) help advance the issues they work on. The learning? The Foundation is using the findings to inform its communications strategy. The sharing? Packard’s Felicia Madsen and APEP’s David Devlin-Foltz are presenting what we learned at ComNet16 and AEA.

So STUPID it’s smart

SMART is overrated. The omnipresent acronym (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound) has provided a framework for setting, well, smart objectives. With a hat tip to our pal Rhonda Schlangen for flagging this goodie: check out Jim Coe’s recent post on the limits of the SMART approach. Instead, he recommends we get STUPID (Strategic, Targeted, Uncertain, Plausible, Intelligence-based, Defensible). His point: advocates’ objective-setting framework needs to reflect the “complex, power-laden, unpredictable nature of campaigning.” Seems smart, er, reasonable. We’ll keep an eye out for opportunities to exercise our newfound STUPIDity.

The power of pop

In the information-soaked media environment we now eat, sleep, and breathe in, it can be hard to get your message heard. As an advocate working in this cluttered context, how do you raise up an issue or start a public dialogue? Here’s one approach: make a fashion statement about gender norms and gender-based violence. Or use a baseball bat-wielding supervillain to start a conversation about feminism. This ain’t no Gray Lady or Meet the Press – it’s unabashedly situated in pop culture. And that’s kinda the point.