Executive Master EPAC: Cluster 2 : EU Public Affairs

15 crédits – 2022-2023 – 1st Semester


Name : Paul Shotton PhD,

Email : paul@advocacystrategy.com

Tel : +31 624221664

Learning outcomes: 

  1. Show policy knowledge on complex policy issues by analysing a topical case study assignment on a policy dilemma and undertaking desk research using qualitative methods.
  2. Formulate evidence-based strategic intelligence analysis on the basis of a comprehensive set of information sources.
  3. Formulate SMART Objectives on the basis of an evaluation of policy issues for impact, effectiveness and
  4. Develop convincing and concise evidence-based messages, arguments, narratives and frames.
  5. Create stakeholder maps by researching, classifying and prioritising multi-level stakeholders.
  6. Create professional public affairs products (i.e., a monitoring report, position paper or stakeholder map)
  7. Develop and present a campaign plan combining the professional products, analysis, lobbying tools and tactics, accompanied by KPI as well as an implementation and evaluation plan.

Summary of the Cluster

Student completing this cluster will understand the role and importance of lobbying and advocacy within the European Union.  Elected officials and member states are not the only powerful actors in decision-making. The 13,000+ EU interest groups such as NGOs, multinationals, trade associations and their consultants and lawyers have significant influence over EU policy and legislation.

Through a real case study assigned by a working consultancy in Brussels, students will learn how to use best practices in public affairs to design a lobbying campaign focusing on the EU’s three main legislative institutions, namely the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers.

Students will interact with lobbyists, legislators and other policy-making actors through case studies, guest lectures and possible field trips to institutions and interest groups. Students will be assessed through the submission of professional products (i.e., advocacy and lobbying campaigns) built upon case studies emphasizing the importance of social responsibility in policymaking.

Courses design (ex-cathedra, workshops, online courses, video content…):

To be discussed: Quentin’s case studies can support the learning process and be offered at one or in combination 3+3+3+3

The 7-step Advocacy Method

Our 7-Step method provides a sequential framework to acquire the knowledge, skills and tools required for successful advocacy campaigns.  The method is best acquired by participants when explored and implemented through the application of real-life examples and existing strategy. Your interest group has the goals and knowledge that Advocacy Strategy and its method can translate into high-impact advocacy strategies.

Our 7-step method is ordered as follows:

  1. Prioritize: How to identify and define priorities.
  2. Intelligence Gathering: How to get the information you need.
  3. Position: How to build the right positions.
  4. Information Management: How to manage all your information.
  5. Engage: How to engage with your stakeholders
  6. Manage: How to manage your advocacy.
  7. Evaluate: How to evaluate and improve.

The 7-step advocacy method is a framework of the advocacy practice.

  1. It provides a methodology to deconstruct the advocacy process. It is based on strength across the entire advocacy process and not in just one or two areas.
  2. Providing a comprehensive framework making your advocacy strategy more complete, which you need to be successful across a complete set of activities from one campaign to the next.
  3. It delivers a long-term improvement to your advocacy practice. By adapting your advocacy practice to the method, you initiate long-term changes to the way in which you work individually and as a team.
  4. It makes your advocacy strategy more adaptable and agile. As internal and external events change, using our method makes it easier to react to KPI and understand what aspects of the strategy need to adapt as well as determine the consequences for other areas of your strategy.

To further explore the 7-steps of advocacy method as well as the free advocacy tools, including the free 7-step snapshot report, please visit: www.advocacystrategy.com.

Organisation of the cluster:

Cal Week Topic Online / Offline Lectures Seminar / Workshop / Field Trip Feedback / Assignment / Reading
1-2 Welcome & Introduction Introduction to the 7-Step advocacy method, to the case study assignment as well as to the course.   Lecture: Introduction to the module (60-90 minutes): Introduction to courseDidacticsOnline environmentModule GuideHomework & assignments Lecture: Introduction to the 7-step method (60-90 minutes): Overview of the 7-steps of advocacy methodDiscussion of the interconnection between the 7-stepsPresentation of the key knowledge, skills and tools contained within the course. Lecture: Introduction to the case study (60-90 minutes): Case study topicCase study organizationsCase study assignment provider   Group Formation Session (40 minutes) Discuss and explore the case study and assignmentConfirm groups and case study organisation Discuss didactics and organisation of course Group field trip (240 minutes / 0.5 day) Students travel to visit organisation or company working in the case study field in order to learn more about the topic as well as the specific issues of concern.   Reading: Explore the 7-steps website and watch the 7 short videosDigital case study file with links to key sources of information on the case study Homework: Research the digital case study file (websites and documentation)Contact fellow group members and set up shared folder (i.e. on google drive
3-4 Step 1: Prioritize Successful Public Affairs, no matter the issue, requires rigorous, structured and critical research and analysis. Prioritisation delivers priorities, objectives and KPIs. Prioritisation is a critical thinking process. Prioritisation optimises your advocacy strategy and campaign. It ensures you are adaptable to feedback. It requires hard choices, notably selecting issues for engagement. Prioritisation develops understanding around what to do, how to do it and how much resource to allocate to what.   (Online) lecture: Introduction to Prioritisation (60-90 minutes): Identifying, selecting and discarding policy issues that impact your organisationSelecting issues by measuring their impact upon your organisations (defining KPI and means of measurement)Visualising your priorities, communicating them and ensuring alignment with your organisation’s goals. (Online) lecture: Introduction to SMART Objectives (60-90 minutes): What is an objective , why is it needed and what makes for a helpful objective?How do objectives link to goals, outcomes and activities within an advocacy campaign?Using examples how do you write a set of SMART Objectives? Issue prioritisation workshop (120 Minutes): Students will explore an issues impact  measurement table and matrix visualisation.Students will explore indicators and means of measurement for policy impact.Students will complete an Issue matrix as well as an interest / positioning matrix for their case study topic SMART Objectives workshop (120 Minutes) Students will familiarise themselves with SMART criteria.  What is a truly SMART objective? Why is it so difficult?Students will draft a set of SMART objectives for their case study topic.Students will provide each other with peer feedback on their draft SMART objectives.  Office hours (60 minutes) Student questions, discussion and feedback on assignments   Reading: TBC Homework: Students will complete their Issue matrix as well as their Interest / Positioning Matrix.  They will also complete their SMART Objectives. Tool: Prioritisation Map (Excel) & SMART Objectives handout
5-6 Step 2: Intelligence Gathering Intelligence is the foundation upon which prioritisation delivers priorities, objectives and KPIs. Intelligence is more than gathering public and non-public information. It requires investigation and critical analysis. Effective information and intelligence processes underpin, amongst others, the quality of your advocacy prioritisation, positioning, communication and feedback cycle. Incomplete, inaccurate or late information and intelligence undermine your advocacy.   (Online) lecture: Introduction to Intelligence Gathering (60-90 minutes): How does intelligence support advocacy?  It is ethical and legal?Identifying online and offline sources of intelligence data.Distinguishing between public and non-public intelligence.Understanding bias when analysing intelligence.Analysing and communicating intelligence within your organisation, to allies and policy-makers.Staying up to date by tracking issues and updating audiences on issues. (Online) lecture: Introduction to Intelligence Gathering in the era of AI (60-90 minutes): Understanding the role of technology in managing public affairs information.Using technology to gathering and process intelligence.The role and potential of artificial intelligence in intelligence gathering.   Issue Tracker Workshop (120 Minutes) Students will work in groups to analyse an issue tracker templateStudents will discuss and explore potential sources of data to be included in an issue tracker on their case study. Students will then populate the templates with their case study data. Office hours (60 minutes) Student questions, discussion and feedback on assignments   Reading: TBC Homework: Students will complete their Issue Tracker overview for their case study. Tool: Issue Tracker Template (Word) Completion check for Prioritise assignments
7-8 Step 3: Position Influencing public policy and politics requires you to engage early, to know your audience and to communicate clear messages. You track the shifting constellations of influential stakeholders on key priorities. You continuously update key messages, arguments, documents, evidence, data and other materials. Mapping and engaging in this unstable environment is fundamental for effective influence.   (Online) lecture: Introduction to Stakeholder Mapping (60-90 minutes): What are stakeholders? How can they be classified? How many are there in Brussels and Europe.What criteria can be used to map stakeholders? Where can you find information on stakeholders? What role does GDPR play in stakeholder mapping?How can you visualise stakeholder maps?   (Online) lecture: Introduction to Messaging and Advocacy Assets (60-90 minutes): How do you build effective arguments?What is the role of evidence in EU policy making? How can evidence be tailored to different audiences?How can frames and narratives strengthen your messaging?What is the connection between advocacy assets and advocacy messages?   Stakeholder Analysis Workshop (120 Minutes) Students explore stakeholder information sources including online databases such as WhoisWho.Students identify key criteria for mapping their stakeholders including level of influence and level of interest.As a group students make a list of the key European stakeholders on their case study issue. Does your interest group have any natural allies? Do you have enemies? What does the map tell you?Students reflect in groups on what makes for an effective stakeholder map as well as how often the map requires updating and how to integrate the map into your campaign strategy. Messaging Workshop (120 Minutes) Students will build a message house for their case study campaign using a template as well as information gathered when building the stakeholder map.Students will explore the criteria for a persuasive messaging including the 7Cs and ensure their messaging is tailored to the audience and evidence-based. Office hours (60 minutes) Student questions, discussion and feedback on assignments   Reading: TBC Homework: Students will complete their Stakeholder map and visualisation as well as draft 200 word analysis of the strategic implications of the stakeholder map.  Students will also complete their Message house. Tool: Stakeholder Mapping Matrix Tool (Excel) & Message House Template (PDF) Completion check for Intelligence Gathering assignments
9-10 Step 4: Information Management Software platforms provide you with the opportunity to centralise and manage the collection of public and non-public information and intelligence. This benefits you, your team, consultants and third parties. Specialised public affairs platforms represent an advocacy gamechanger in terms of gathering, organizing and analysing data for key trends, meeting updates, stakeholder overviews. Their offering is evolving rapidly. (Online) lecture: Introduction to advocacy software tools including an exploration of public affairs software tools (60-90 minutes): What are the current tools available on the market for public affairs information management? What is their functionality and how is it evolving?What role does Artificial Intelligence (AI) play in the future of information management?What are the legal and ethical implications of modern information management? Why are wall being built between European countries?Why do people resist adopting news tools and technologies and how can this be overcome?   Information Management workshop (120 Minutes) Students will explore a series of free and paid public affairs information management tools.Students will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each tools and platform focusing on criteria such as ease of use, cost, use of AI etc. Students will identify strategies for integrating these technologies into their practice Office hours (60 minutes) Student questions, discussion and feedback on assignments Reading: TBC Homework: Students will complete assignments from steps 1, 2 and 3. Tool: NA Completion check for Positioning assignments
11-12 Step 5: Engage Engagement and communication are the heart of advocacy. It requires selecting appropriate communication channels to reach your audience at the right moment.  It requires defining the most cost-effective and high-impact communication strategy that is suited to your organisation, your political context, your stakeholder targets and your budget. (Online) lecture: Introduction to Direct engagement (60-90 minutes): What is the difference between direct and indirect engagement?Why is timing so important to engagement?How do you organise a meeting plan?How do you prepare for direct engagement? Who should attend the meeting? What makes for a (un)successful meeting? (Online) lecture: Introduction to Indirect engagement (60-90 minutes): What is the difference between direct and indirect engagement?Why does group type matter in engagement strategies?What are the options for indirect engagement and how are they evolving?How much impact has social media had upon engagement practices? What is the next best thing?   Direct Engagement Workshop (120 Minutes) Groups will prepare, simulate and provide feedback on a meeting with a stakeholder from the European Commission, European Parliament or Council of Ministers. Position Paper Workshop (120 Minutes) Groups will explore the structure and content of an effective position paper by reviewing examples.  A set of criteria will be discussed and defined.Students will start to draft a position paper for their case study topic focusing on defining the key arguments and evidence required for their position paper. Office hours (60 minutes) Student questions, discussion and feedback on assignments.   Reading: TBC Homework: Students will complete their Position paper for the case study assignment with careful attention to the structure as well as the messaging and evidence. Tool: Position Paper structure Template & Position paper assessment template &  Position paper examples portfolio  
13-14 Step 6: Manage Advocacy teams need clear roles and targets to better collaborate, and budgets always need to be managed. Advocacy Strategies need clear structures, action plans and ultimately dashboards to allow for feedback and adaptation. Managing advocacy is absolutely key to deliver better results – especially in a world of more with less. (Online) lecture: Introduction to Campaign management (60-90 minutes): Action plans and Gantt charts in advocacy management; purpose and structure.Difficulties in drafting, implementing and maintaining and action plan.What do modern tools for project management (i.e. Trello / Monday.com) offer. (Online) lecture: Introduction to Theories of Change (60-90 minutes): What is a theory of change?How can theory and evidence support an advocacy campaign?What is a indicators, risks / assumptions and causal pathways?How can you assess risks and assumptions?What are the common pitfalls in using theories of change? Action plan and Gantt Workshop (120 Minutes) Students will explore the sequencing of advocacy activities alongside the policy process and identify strategies for balancing workload and acting at the most opportune moment. Students will draft a communications calendar including the lead times for advocacy asset development and aligned with the case study policy process. Writing a Theory of Change Workshop (120 Minutes) Students will identify relevant theories to explain their campaign’s causal pathways notably to justify their advocacy strategy choices as well as to explain the change resulting from their campaign. Students will discuss what works and what doesn’t when designing a theory of change narrative versus visualisation. Office hours (60 minutes) Student questions, discussion and feedback on assignments. Reading: Stachowiak, S. (2013). Pathways for Change: 10 Theories to Inform Advocacy and Policy Change Efforts. ORS Impact, Center for Evaluation Innovation. Homework: Students will complete their GANTT communications calendar. Tool: Advocacy Plan Template (PDF) & Communications Calendar Template (Excel) Completion check and feedback for Engage assignments
15-16 Step 7: Evaluate The final step of our method is all about ensuring you have a structured approach and commitment towards evaluating and reviewing your advocacy campaigns at regular milestones and upon completion. You should always evaluate your work across the first 5 steps of the 7-step advocacy method. Successful advocacy is reflective and agile, and must monitor, evaluate and review constantly. (Online) lecture: Introduction to evaluation as well as auditing the preparatory steps (60-90 minutes): Why should you evaluate your advocacy and why do so few professionals do it?How does evaluation fit within the overall step 7-method? What is a quality culture in advocacy? How do you foster one?Evaluating monitoring, intelligence gathering and stakeholder mapping? (Online) lecture: Introduction to Evaluation of Engagement (60-90 minutes): Why is evaluation of direct and indirect engagement different? What are the challenges of evaluating campaign impact? Is it (im)possible or is subjectivity acceptable?Evaluating perception; the methodologies and the importance of listening to your stakeholders? Evaluating relevance when examining the impact of your messaging, arguments and evidence.   Indicators and Measurement Workshop (120 Minutes) Students will familiarise themselves with a template advocacy campaign Logframe framework and the challenges of defining indicators and measure of measurement for advocacy campaigns.Students will review a list of potential advocacy campaign indicators and means of measurement.Students will discuss the strengths and weakness of indicators as well as the potential pitfalls of campaign monitoring and evaluation. Office hours (60 minutes) Student questions, discussion and feedback on assignments   Reading: TBC Homework: Students will complete their Logframe evaluation framework for the case study campaign. Tool: Indicators and Measures Template (PDF) Completion check and feedback for Manage assignments  
17-18 Exam   Group Presentation online / in Brussels TBC  

Evaluation :


  • 30% for the presentation
  • 70% for the portfolio


Thus, students will have one initial and one resit opportunity per year to take and pass the assessments.

Passing Grade:

The student receives a passing grade if all interim products have been submitted and the total grade is higher than 5.5.

Presentations will be in the last two weeks.  Submission of written work will be at end of terms 1 & 2. 


Group presentation of group analysis and campaign to case study providers. Presentations will take place in week 17-18.

Presentation 30 minutes and must include:

  • Vision, objective & arguments.
  • Key demands (requests) from policymakers


Present an individual lobbying campaign related to your case study that includes:

  1. An Issue Impact Assessment and Issue Prioritisation Visualisation
  2. A set of SMART Objectives
  3. An Issue Tracker Overview document
  4. A stakeholder mapping & a matrix of priority targets
  5. A Message House
  6. A 3-4-page position paper
  7. GANTT communications calendar
  8. Advocacy Plan LogFrame including indicators and measures

Available resources :

References :           

Core Reading:

Hardacre, A.. (2020). How to Work with the EU Institutions: A Practical Guide to Successful Public Affairs in the EU. John Harper Publishing. ISBN: 9781838089818: https://www.johnharperpublishing.co.uk/how-to-work-with-the-eu-institutions-a-practical-guide-to-successful-public-affairs-in-the-eu/

Recommended Reading (Books):

  • Peace Child International (2009). Advocacy Toolkit.
  • European Environmental Bureau (2015). ENV.net Advocacy Tool. How to influence environmental policy through effective advocacy Coen, D., & Richardson, J. (Eds.). (2009). Lobbying the European Union: institutions, actors, and issues. Oxford University Press.
  • Greenwood, J. (2017). Interest representation in the European Union. Springer.
  • Richardson, J., & Mazey, S. (Eds.). (2015). European Union: power and policymaking. Routledge.
  • Shotton, P. A., & Nixon, M. P. G. (Eds.). (2015). Lobbying the European Union: Changing Minds, Changing Times. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.
  • van Schendelen, M. P., & Van Schendelen, R. (2010). More Machiavelli in Brussels: The art of lobbying the EU. Amsterdam University Press.
  • Wallace, H., Pollack, M. A., & Young, A. R. (Eds.). (2015). Policymaking in the European Union. Oxford University Press, USA.
  • Zetter, L. (2014). Lobbying 3e: The art of political persuasion. Harriman House Limited.

Key journals for this course include:

Interesting Journal Articles include:

Recommended Reading (Toolkits):

  • Baumgartner, F. R., Berry, J. M., Hojnacki, M., Leech, B. L., & Kimball, D. C. (2009). Lobbying and policy change: Who wins, who loses, and why. University of Chicago Press.
  • Chalmers, A. W., & Shotton, P. A. (2016). Changing the Face of Advocacy? Explaining Interest Organizations’ Use of Social Media Strategies. Political Communication, 33(3), 374-391.
  • Hall, B. (2010). Giving Voice: The Power of Grassroots Advocacy in Shaping Public Policy. Views from the Field
  • Stachowiak, S. (2013). Pathways for Change: 10 Theories to Inform Advocacy and Policy Change Efforts. ORS Impact, Center for Evaluation Innovation.
  • FNV (2020). Handboek Europa.
  • Fenton Communications (2009). Now Hear This – The 9 Laws of Successful Advocacy Communications.
  • Lamb, B. (nd). Trustee Guide to campaigning and influencing. National Council for Voluntary Organisations.