Acting strategically

This is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of the Economic Emergency Kit, titled Campaigns, Escalation & Acting Strategically. If you like this, you can download a PDF of the entire kit here.

The three key elements to a successful campaign are goals, strategy, and tactics. Discussing and deciding on these as a group, understanding the differences, and assessing your work against them are crucial to a successful campaign.

You’ve had dozens of conversations. You’ve worked on defining your issue and your message. You figured out your community, and brought a group of passionate people together. Maybe you even have a name for yourself! And you’ve done something. You organized a delegation, or picketed a business. And while sometimes it feels like we just have to do something about an issue, we generally take action to accomplish something, to win a fight for justice. But it’s clear that important success doesn’t come from a single action. From civil rights to the 8-hour work day, the big fights take time and many actions. Even small struggles, such as keeping one family in a home or winning back one worker’s stolen wages, usually take more than one action.

This chapter explains how to think about executing multiple actions over time in pursuit of your goals. Here are some key terms we use throughout this section:

A campaign is the series of actions you take to accomplish a goal. A series of actions to force an employer to pay back a worker’s stolen wages is an example of a campaign.

Your strategy is your analysis of the power relationships related to your issue and how your actions will change those relationships. Pressuring an employer to pay stolen wages by publicizing their bad actions to their community and customers is an example of a strategy.

Tactics are the actions you take in support of your strategy. Picket lines, community petitions and delegations are examples of tactics.

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