Around the Institute

Of Joyce and Advocacy Evaluation

June 22, 2012

Kiss Me, I’m Irish!
As you may know, last Saturday was Bloomsday, an annual celebration honoring Ireland’s greatest export (not Guinness, that other one). We’ve tried to read Ulysses many times—the operative word here being “tried”—and after returning to the novel this time around, something struck us: it’s a lot like advocacy evaluation. They’re both tough, messy, and don’t hold a simple answer or meaning. Needless to say, after one chapter we were ready for a break…and some more Twilight, of course.

Happy Together?
A few days ago, The New York Times profiled the complicated, evolving relationship between President Obama and German Chancellor Merkel on the issue of Europe’s ongoing economic crisis. Advocates may see some familiar themes. Conflicting perspectives, pressure from constituent groups, and personality dynamics among leaders are only three factors that can heavily influence the functioning and effectiveness of an advocacy coalition. In the end, it’s about working together; being happy while at it is an added plus.

Causality and its Discontents
Last month, Salon’s Alec Nevala-Lee made a curious claim: if The New Yorker publishes a glowing profile of your film, it’s more likely to bomb at the box office. Call us skeptics, but we just don’t buy it. A “New Yorker feature curse”? Put that beside other superstitions like the “magazine cover curse” or the now-dead “Graveyard of Champions” at Wimbledon. Causality is really hard to prove, which is also true when evaluating advocacy campaigns.  Let’s talk contribution, not attribution. Or, in some cases, a (un)happy coincidence.