the european campaign playbook

The cause needs to come first

In advocacy, the real and enduring change happens when the cause comes first.

What does it mean? It means you commit to a principle, aim, or movement and put it before the desire to gain personal credit.

Doing the opposite will get you some tactical wins and short-lived gains, there is no doubt about it. But, if you are in the advocacy space for the long run, then you better avoid making this type of mistakes.

And this is why it felt so reassuring to hear professionals like Anna-Kaisa Itkonen and Ana Mingo. They shared with us how they promote the cause of gender equality.

About Anna-Kaisa Itkonen and Ana Mingo

Ana Mingo is an EU affairs expert and the Director of Communications at The Brussels Binder. The organisation's goal is to bring more women’s voices to European debates. To achieve it, they built a network of experts based on a community that is open to all women regardless of their sector, area of expertise and region. Anyone looking for speakers and experts can find and contact the members of the community on The Brussels Binder's website:

Interestingly enough, that is how we found our main guest for the event: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen.

Anna-Kaisa is a gender-equality activist and an expert on European politics. Her career in Brussels spans over a decade. She has occupied high-level positions, such as the Spokesperson for climate action and energy at the European Commission.

How to influence the EU bubble: lessons learned from a successful campaign

We invited Anna-Kaisa to talk about how to influence the EU bubble, by drawing on lessons learned from her latest successful campaign: making European commissioner candidates answer questions related to gender equality.

You can watch the full conversation by clicking in the video below. For those who don't have much time, let me summarise the main lessons learned.


  1. The cause needs to come first, rather than the personal desire to get credit for it. One important caveat of the example she shared is that she does not advocate on this issue for a living, but she did so voluntarily. Still, this lesson holds true in many aspects of the life of an advocacy professional. Want to hear a successful example of cause-driven advocacy succeeded? Watch the talk to find ou
  2. Simple ideas work the best, and are welcome in the EU bubble. Anna-Kaisa asked people to help her write gender equality-related questions and make the candidates to European commissioner answer them.
  3. Learn the system and understand who is who in the policy-making process. Most policies or legislative proposals are prepared by the civil service and Secretariat of the institutions, before they even receive political endorsements. So, don't just aim to contact MEPs or high-ranking officials.
  4. Nurture your network at all levels. Regardless of who is in the network, make sure you reach out, especially during the pandemic. Anna-Kaisa shared the poor, yet common practice, of the lobbyist who only gets in contact twice a year, and exactly before a milestone. Don't be that lobbyist.
"Take every call and do not underestimate any single contact. " Anna-Kaisa Itkonen

And finally, if you've reached the end of the article, we'd like to ask: what's your view? Do these lessons learned always hold true?

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