Expat Guide

The Advocacy Process

Key Terms


An advocate actively supports a cause or proposal. This can be through many forms, such as petitioning, letter writing, and contacting the media.


Press releases may be subject to embargo. An embargoed article is released to a select audience who agrees not to post or discuss the release publicly until the end of embargo. This process gives everyone an equal playing field so no party is caught unawares.


Stakeholders are groups or individuals known to have an interest in policy. UK-Yankee© is establishing itself as a stakeholder for consultations regarding immigration and citizenship. Invitations are sent to select stakeholders for a meeting and walk through the booklet describing what the consultation seeks to do. A press release and the booklet are then released to all stakeholders.


We monitor the news, government, and immigration related websites and newspapers to keep up to date with the issues. Any items that relate to our agenda are reported to members.

Reaching an Appropriate Audience

To be effective, we must target a receptive audience. General categories are decision makers (ex: government officials) and pressure makers (ex: Media).

Key questions include:

  1. What is at stake?
  2. How are changes made?
  3. Who has the power or authority to make or block a change?
  4. How can they be held accountable?
  5. What are their limitations?
  6. How influential is the pressure maker?
  7. How many levels can be reached? (local, national, international…)
  8. How are things organized?
  9. Who can help influence public opinion?

Letters to Government Officials

Letters should be dispassionate and rational. Principles should be laid out clearly and convey that you are well informed. Letters from UK-Yankee© also include forum “branding” (general information to let people know who we are). Finally, letters should pose a simple, well formed question. Letters should not reference an individual or be too narrow in scope.

Replies and What They Mean

Depending upon the information presented in the letter, the recipient, and the letter’s author, a range of responses may be received.

Standard Reply

Individuals may receive standard reply letters. These letters may suggest further communication or may simply serve as confirmation that the letter has been received.

Personalized Response

Personalized responses may be received if our letter has been well received. This may be in support of our points or may be a rebuttal. In either case this is good news because it means the letter was taken seriously.

Make Representations

If a letter has been written and we do not feel the response is satisfactory, representations may be made. There are three ways we may go about this process.

  1. First, research the representations procedure of the organization. Follow those guidelines.
  2. If there is no representations procedure, or the response from the representations is not satisfactory, follow the organization’s complaints procedure.
  3. Finally, if the other two options are not available, or were not concluded in a satisfactory manner, designate a liaison to assist in the representations procedure.

Communicating with the Media

Learn about the Media

Research the operating policies, audiences, deadlines, and key personnel of potential media outlets. Note the authors of articles on topics relating to our agenda. Pay attention to the style of the journalist. Who would best serve our needs?

Frame the Issue

Create the image of advocating for the public, not specific legislation or action. Focus on positive images that the public and media can relate to.

Pitching a Story

When able to offer new insight into, or expand upon an issue, it may be pitched to a journalist. Using the above guidelines, identify a receptive audience. When placing a pitch, be receptive to time constraints, begin with three or four sentences about the issue and ask if s/he has time to talk. Get straight to the point. If there is no interest, try pitching to another journalist. Offer more information if requested and follow through on promises.

Press Release

A press release must be clear and focused, no more than 1-1½ pages in length. The “Five Ws” should be addressed in the first two paragraphs. Important information should be at the beginning. When cutting down releases, editors generally cut from the bottom. Also, it grasps the readers’ attention when the main points are clearly stated at the start. A bolded headline, summarizing the contents of the release allows the journalists to immediately determine interest. Wording must be clear and concise, using action verbs to move the story forward. Points must be backed up with thoroughly checked facts and quotes. Press releases must be released in a timely fashion or interest may cool.

Handling an Interview

If you are interviewed by a member of the press, remember that you may speak as a member of UK-Yankee© but must have Leah’s consent to speak on behalf of UK-Yankee©. A fact guide for speaking to the media is being created.


  1. Learn as much information as possible about the journalist and news organization. Is this a reputable organization and journalist? Where do their interests lie? How can you best explain the message?
  2. If available, send written information to the reporter. This builds their background knowledge on your viewpoint and the issues being discussed.
  3. During the interview, remember that the journalist is there for the story. Stay focused on the message. Know your key points and repeat as needed (Think of interviews with politicians or spokespeople.). The journalist may not have as much knowledge about the subject, clearly explain the issues. Watch your wording, rephrase comments that may be misinterpreted or taken out of context. Remember, one hours of conversation may only lead to one sentence in print.
  4. Don’t answer questions you are not comfortable with. Defer to experts in the field as needed.
  5. Keep a sense of humor, but don’t make jokes. Jokes tend to be cultural and may not translate well.
  6. Ensure the journalist checks quotes and facts. Refer him/her to alternate sources of information as needed.
  7. As with any interview, a thank you note or letter helps create a positive relationship.
  8. Relax! You did your best and have gotten the message out.

Letters to the Editor

When an article that relates to UK-Yankee’s agenda and mission is released, a letter to the editor is another method of increasing awareness of the issues. Letters to the editor are highly visible and are meant to encourage discussion in the community.

There are four categories for a “Letter to the Editor.” First, you may write a letter to clarify information from an article; this may be in the form of omitted or misleading information. Secondly, a letter may be written with the intent of exposing a hidden or special interest of the author or source of an article. Another strategy for a “Letter to the Editor” may be to respond to a previous letter or provide an alternate viewpoint. Lastly, the letter may be written with the intent of commending an article or letter.

Here are some tips to increase your chances of being published:

  1. Check the newspaper’s policy for restrictions on length as well as necessary information to include. Individually tailor each letter, do not use a general template.
  2. Be timely with your response. Interest may wane over time or someone else may have written a letter that has already been selected.
  3. State opinions that are grounded with facts.
  4. Remember that most readers may not know as much about the subject as you, provide a “crash course” for basic information.
  5. This is the best way to reach the community and general public. Letters that address local concerns are most likely to be printed.
  6. This is your chance to express your personality and feelings. Be original and provide a refreshing perspective. Try to spark emotion in the readers.

What can you do?


Members with 25 posts or more may volunteer by participating in the Advocacy thread in the restricted area. You may also volunteer by contacting the leader of the area in which you want to assist.

Spread the Word Locally

Contact your local media; spread the word amongst your family, friends, and coworkers.

Letter Writing Campaigns

Contact your local Member of Parliament (MP) through www.writetothem.co.uk. Your letter will be forwarded and tracked to ensure a response. If you are still in the US, you may write to the British Counsel or Ambassador, contact information may be obtained through www.britainusa.com


While not generally the best route for advocacy, petitions are useful for showing numbers of people who support your ideas. Petitions should include a summary of the issues and recommended solution.

Further Information

For further information please contact Tristessa or a member of the advocacy team.


Advocacy Center at the Institute for Sustainable Communities www.advocacy.org 10 May 2007 Merriam-Webster Dictionary www.m-w.com 10 May 2007-05-11

Members of the UK-Yankee© Advocacy Team

Visit our affiliate partner

UK Yankee is a resource and community for expatriate Americans living in or planning to move to the UK, established in 1999. Please join the discussions in our friendly expat community.