How to Create an Advocacy Policy Brief

A policy brief is a focused summary that helps an audience understand the policies, mission, vision, and stance of your advocacy group with regard to a particular issue, such as a proposed law on women’s rights or voter registration. The document outlines what your view is, why you hold that belief, and what you think to be the best path forward for addressing the issue. 

Creating an effective advocacy policy brief represents a crucial step in influencing public policy and decision-making processes. A well-crafted document will present compelling evidence and arguments to persuade policymakers, stakeholders, and the public to support a specific cause. 

Create an Impactful Brief in 10 Steps

With the above in mind, below are ten steps to take to create an effective advocacy policy brief:

  1. Define Your Objective

Start by clearly defining the objective of your policy brief. Determine the specific issue you are advocating for (or against) and what your target audience looks like. Your objective should be precise and measurable, guiding the focus of the document from start to finish. 

Most of the time, advocacy policy briefs focus on an upcoming election or a law that is on the ballot. But even then, your advocacy group can also tackle community issues that haven’t made it to a proposition yet. In fact, your objective may be to garner support and mobilize policymakers to get a particular concern on a future ballot instead.

  1. Conduct Research

No matter how strongly you feel about an issue, you cannot rely solely on your personal opinions and sentiments to drive change. Instead, your arguments should be based on credible sources to make them more persuasive. And that means you must conduct thorough research to gather evidence that reliably supports your policy recommendations. 

Such research will include statistical data, case studies, real-life examples, and expert opinions. Consider all of the variables at play and look at the big-picture impacts of the change you are proposing, as well as the negative repercussions of inaction. 

  1. Know Your Audience

Consider who you are trying to reach. In doing so, you can craft a message that effectively resonates with that group or demographic. If you are targeting lawmakers and industry leaders, for instance, take a more formal and sophisticated tone. Conversely, if you are reaching out to the general public, use a more accessible tone. 

  1. Structure Your Brief Effectively

The most impactful documents have clear and logical structures that convey their messages seamlessly. 

With that in mind, a typical policy brief includes the following aspects:

  • Executive Summary: A concise overview of the issue at hand, your recommendations, and key arguments 
  • Introduction: A brief explanation of the problem and why it matters 
  • Background: Contextual information and analysis of the issue 
  • Evidence and Arguments: Detailed presentation of the evidence supporting your recommendations 
  • Policy Recommendations: Clear and actionable suggestions for change 
  • Conclusion: A summary of your key points and a call to action

Regardless of the exact issue you are tackling, make sure to include these points in your brief. Doing so will help your message maintain focus while also mobilizing your audience to action. 

  1. Make Your Case Compelling

Your brief should convincingly argue why your proposed change is both necessary and reasonable. Use persuasive language that highlights the benefits of your recommendations, and make sure to address potential counterarguments as well.  

  1. Use Clear and Accessible Language

Avoid heavy jargon and niche technical terms that might alienate your audience. Your brief should be accessible to non-experts and ensure that a wide range of people can understand and support your cause. 

  1. Incorporate Visuals

Graphs, charts, and infographics can help illustrate your points and make complex information more digestible. Visuals can also draw attention to key statistics or arguments, enhancing the overall impact of your brief. 

Nevertheless, you don’t want to go overboard and inundate your audience with pictures while failing to thoroughly address the issue at hand. Strike a balance between text, graphs, and images.

  1. Include Testimonials and Case Studies

Real-life examples are powerful tools that help make an issue relatable. If someone has been negatively impacted by current laws or practices, highlight that as a pain point that your proposal seeks to relieve. Also, use case studies where possible to drive home the need for such a change. 

In some instances, it may be difficult to obtain quantifiable data to support your arguments. But you can still create a compelling document without hard numbers. You will just need to lean heavily on testimonials from community members. 

  1. Be Solution-Focused

It’s easy to become fixated on the issue at hand and the damage that injustices may have caused. And though it’s important to highlight the problem, most of your brief should focus on solutions. 

With that in mind, provide clear, feasible policy recommendations backed by evidence. Doing so demonstrates that your requests are reasonable while also acting as a guide for policymakers toward actionable steps. 

  1. Distribute Strategically

Once you have finalized your brief, distribute it effectively to ensure maximum reach. You can submit it directly to policymakers, publish it on your website, share it across social media, and connect with the press. If you’ve got a list of email subscribers, consider sending out your brief via this channel as well. 

Ultimately, you want to encourage supporters to redistribute the document to their own spheres of influence. The broader its reach, the better your outcome.

Power Your Cause With Aristotle 

As a leader in political data and advocacy technology, Aristotle can help you bring your vision to life with our dynamic tools and insights. Our advocacy consulting services represent a valuable resource that you can leverage to create an impactful brief and share your cause. Schedule a demo today to learn more.


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