A chat earlier made me realise I’ve never seen a clear guide for how to write a policy brief, a key bit of campaigning work. Once you’re clear on your policy position as a group / organisation, you’ll want to layout your vision as a policy brief for your target decision-makers or power holders. It’s good to be creative with how you communicate your campaign, but even if you get the key messages across via shadow semaphore projected onto your parliament building (if you do this, please let me know!) you’ll also want a simple brief decision-makers can refer to.
The basic elements you want to include in your policy brief are:
- Intro: Summarise the situation, try to avoid making too many assumptions about the decision-maker’s level of prior knowledge, you may be the first to raise the element of the issue you’re campaigning on.
- State the problem, and why it is a problem, and who is being affected by the problem.
- Make it explicit who is responsible. Outline the key stakeholders involved, and the impacts now or in future.
- Clearly state your key ask here as well, which is what you think the solution is.
- Main content: Build your case with citations (footnoted if useful). Here you outline the reasons why your campaign is important with simple, compelling and factual statements.
- Answer why this is urgent, why does it need to be dealt with now?
- Conclusion: What does success (or a good resolution) look like? i.e. what will the impact of doing this be? And what does it mean to people?
- Specifically what can the person you’re writing to do about it?
- If they can’t directly affect the change you want, what action do you need them to take to achieve the desired outcome.
As with all things, I wouldn’t pretend this is exhaustive, but it’s better than starting with a blank piece of paper! As for length, assume your reader is busy, so a well designed side (or two) of A4 is ideal, with no fonts below 11pt!
Here are some good examples: