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European Citizens´ Initiative Forum

Game-Changing Strategies and Insider Tips for Expanding your ECI’s Network of Partners

Updated on: 22/04/2024

Success in the world of ECIs isn't just about passion and dedication to your topic — it's about strategic collaboration, effective communication, and forging the right partnerships. From mobilising civil society to mastering media engagement, tips and tricks have been suggested by seasoned ECI experts and campaigners during the 2024 edition of ECI Day at the workshop on “How to Look for Partners”, organised by Democracy International on behalf of the ECI Forum. Now, let’s dive in.

Mobilise organisations for your movement

The first tip is to picture your ECI not just as one European-wide campaign but rather as seven nationwide campaigns. This is exactly what Xavier Dutoit, of the NGO ‘Fix the Status Quo’ who was involved with 5 ECIs, stated. Building a powerhouse of support requires more than just collecting signatures — it's about rallying civil society organisations (CSOs), leveraging their diverse expertise, and empowering grassroots advocates. Partnering with organisations with national or regional expertise on your topic is essential for your ECI’s success. By prioritising national and specialised organisations from the get-go, you can attract even more organisations and mobilise groups across borders.

Transform your supporters into passionate ambassadors for your ECI who will amplify your message. You can achieve this by fostering collaboration among CSO partners and asking your allies to connect you with local or other national organisations working on related or broader topics. In addition, try to involve the network of CSOs consistently over a long period as this facilitates information, collaboration, and experience-sharing.

Group of participants discussing strategies of how to look for partners with speaker - male with black and white striped shirt

Caption: Workshop participants discuss strategies on how to look for partners

How do you leverage public partnerships for maximum impact?

Your ECI doesn't exist in a vacuum - it thrives within the fabric of your community. This is why Stephanie Poppe of the ECI ‘Ensuring a dignified reception of migrants in Europe’ suggests that you collaborate with public partners such as cities to help establish connections at different levels.

From engaging with local institutions to tapping into city resources, the possibilities are endless when you collaborate with public partners who share your vision. For instance, engaging with local institutions, universities, and  community centres fosters a sense of collective ownership and investment in your cause. Moreover, organising workshops with city experts and academics and taking advantage of the city’s in-kind donations, such as public and accessible event spaces, would enable you to reach new audiences. You could also receive assistance from your city to mobilise the academic community to support in drafting your ECI and explaining it to citizens and students.

Reach out, connect and build alliances with politicians and city authorities through established networks like Eurocities and Europe affairs departments, which are available in most major cities!

Participants of workshop in sitting in chairs in a circle discussing strategies on how to look for partners

Caption: Participants of workshop discuss strategies for ECI Organiser Stephanie Poppe

Read Stephanie Poppe’s Article about the ECI Ensuring a dignified reception of migrants in Europe

Learn more about this topic by reading the ECI Forum’s Guidance Note on How to look for partners

Master the art of communication

Effective and strategic communication is the cornerstone of a successful ECI campaign. When considering communication and media partnerships, it is key to distinguish between journalists and media outlets. Sebastian Rodriguez Perez of European campaign playbook highly encourages checking track stories of journalists to target the right ones. When reaching out to journalists, personalise your approach. The best chances are to pitch your story via phone call or face-to-face meeting. Offering ready-to-use content, reliable sources, and access to interviews makes their job easier and sparks their interest in staying in contact with you. 

Your ECI deserves to be front-page news; therefore, utilise factors like proximity, timeliness, and novelty to capture media attention. Structure your ECI communication for media outlets using the framework of the 5Ws1H (what, why, who, when, where, and how). Keeping it concise, clear, and compelling should be your goal. It is crucial to test different wording and framing when talking to citizens before the text or title of the ECI is chosen. Testing should involve different countries and topic frames for the general public. To articulate the core goal and mission and explain your initiative and its functionality, focus on the core message in the headline of a press release and explain the ECI in the body of communication. Don’t forget to provide contact information and call to action. Finally, emphasise essential information, provide comprehensive material, and allow the journalists to decide what to include. 

Check out the Webinar 'Communicating Your ECI! Tips and tricks on how to promote your initiative'

ECI Day 2024 - Slido Question - Aside from CSOs, media, and public partners, which other actors could be partners in an ECI campaign?

Caption: Slido poll from workshop - Aside from CSOs, media, and public partners, which other actors could be partners in an ECI campaign? 

Whether you are mobilising civil society, forging public partnerships, or captivating the media, these dynamic insights will set you on the path to building a diverse, strong network of partners that launch you to success. Last but not least, to receive all the support you need to sail through the ECI process victoriously, make sure you further explore the ECI Forum, where you’ll find a wealth of learning resources and opportunities to find legal and campaign advice. It's time to unlock success and change the world, one signature at a time!

 

Author of Blog Post - Felicia Mabel Frempong

Contributors

Felicia Mabel Frempong

Felicia Mabel Frempong is a European Programme Intern at Democracy International, an NGO dedicated to enhancing citizens' involvement in political decision-making processes. With a good understanding of the European Citizens' Initiative, Felicia brings valuable expertise to the discussion. Currently in her final year in Master of Development Studies, with a specialisation in international economics at the University of Bayreuth, she is poised to contribute significantly to the field of civic engagement and international development.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed on the ECI Forum reflect solely the point of view of their authors and can in no way be taken to reflect the position of the European Commission or of the European Union.