10 Steps to building an MBC campaign

  1. Decide your objectives – what do you hope to accomplish? What change in policy is needed to achieve these objectives?
  2. Develop a detailed plan and list the necessary steps to carrying it out:
  3. Do research and know your facts and figures on your issue.

    RESEARCH AND FACT FINDING

    Before speaking with elected representatives or members of your health ministry it may be helpful to seek answers to the following questions if they are available:

    Do you know how many women in your region / country are diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer each year and how many women die from MBC each year?

    Do you know how much money is spent on breast cancer services in your region / country and what percentage of the national expenditure on healthcare is targeted to metastatic breast cancer services?

    Are there national guidelines for standards of care for breast cancer including MBC?

    Are there specialist breast cancer clinics in your country/region? How many? Can women with metastatic breast cancer receive treatment in these facilities?

    Are there specialist breast cancer surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and breast cancer nurses in your country?

    Does the national health service cover payment for all aspects of metastatic breast cancer care, including chemotherapy and prescription drugs?

    Does your national health service provide psycho-social support for women with MBC and their families?

    Does your national health services provide home health care for women with MBC?

    Is there equal access for all women in your country to quality breast cancer care regardless of religion, social class, and income?

    Are there laws in your country to protect women diagnosed with breast cancer or metastatic breast cancer from discrimination in the work-place, and in financial matters such as applying for mortgages or insurance?

  4. Find out who can impact your issue; which body or institution can influence it - what can they do or achieve and what is outside the scope of their work or ability to impact.

    DECIDE WHO CAN IMPACT YOUR ISSUE, this varies from country to country but includes the following:

    Health ministers, health ministry officials

    Political leaders and parliamentarians

    Health committees

    Regional/local governments

    Regional and local health departments

    Health Technology Assessment (HTA) bodies

    Academic and research institutions

    Medical/oncological societies

  5. Who do you need to reach - who are the individual decision makers/changers: do you already know some of these people - board members, politicians, /medical society members? Could they become champions for your issue?
  6. Who could your partners be? Who are the experts and collaborators who could help you achieve your goal? Try to develop relationships with them and get their input on your objectives.
  7. Utilize all resources available to you and divide the tasks - Teamwork is essential!
  8. Make contacts/appointments/ with decision makers or legislators - execute an event with their support.

    BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS WITH POLICY-MAKERS

    Remember when first contacting politicians that it is your right as a citizen to contact them and it is an important part of their work to represent you. The local/national organisation you represent should be legally established and registered in your country. This will give you credibility when making an appointment.

    Cold-calling: Getting past the gatekeeper can be a challenge in order to get an appointment but can frequently be done by stating your cause on behalf of women with MBC - almost everyone knows someone who has had breast cancer.

    You may need to speak to a staff member or “gatekeeper” to state your case. Remember the following:

    • They will probably ask your address so that they know they represent you.
    • Use a pre-prepared script if it makes you more comfortable but try to personalize it.
    • Calls may be rushed so you may need to get the “ask” out of the way quickly!
    • If you want to push hard on an issue get all of your team and supporters to ring the policymaker about the same issue, in this way it will be pushed to the top of their agenda!
    • What policymakers and their staff often want to know about is the individual impact of your individual story so use that.
    • And of course always be courteous!

    Be prepared! When you do speak to the policy maker directly, either by phone or a personal appointment remember their time is limited:

    • Be brief and succinct
    • Know your figures and provide key facts
    • Ask for something/propose a project you can develop or achieve without too much work on their part
    • Always provide a fact sheet on your issue to lawmakers and their staff
    • The project should be measurable so you can see progress and impact
    • Offer to do support work on the project if appropriate
    • Never make up facts. If you don’t know the answer to a question say you will try to find out and then provide the information promptly in a letter, e-mail or a call to their staff
    • Always say thank you for taking the time to meet/speak on the phone with you and for any positive stance they take on your issues. Everyone likes positive feedback
    • Follow-up with a summary of what was agreed and note of appreciation

    As you continue to build relationships:

    • Show them impact of your joint projects and give them credit in press releases, speeches, and in person
    • Involve them in suitable publicity events (conferences etc.)
    • Get to know their staff and work with them as much as possible. Staff are the gatekeepers for their bosses and do much of the work; this should be acknowledged
    • Be positive and appreciative of their efforts. Policy makers and staff are more likely to meet with you again if they have a positive feeling toward you

    CHECK LIST FOR MEETING WITH PARLIAMENTARIANS OR HEALTH MINISTRY OFFICIALS

    Pre-Meeting

    What will you ask for? What is the specific action you want the lawmaker to take?

    Did you pack your fact-sheet (with your contact information on it) and any backup (i.e., newspaper article, report, photos, etc.)?

    Are you ready to refute opposition arguments?

    Are you ready to “Start where they are, not where you are”?

    Do you have a personal story to share that will make your case more convincing?

    Do you have a couple of questions that you want to ask?

    Is there a conference or upcoming event to which you can invite the lawmaker?

    Post-Meeting

    Did you ask for a specific action from the policymaker/lawmaker?

    What did the policymaker/lawmaker say/promise/question/dispute/request?

    Why does the policymaker/lawmaker support/oppose/have no position on what you requested?

    Make a note of:

    • The date, time, and location of the meeting
    • The lawmaker’s staff who attended the meeting
    • What teammates joined you for the meeting
    • What information you shared with the lawmaker
    • What strongly held beliefs, personal experience, trusted sources, etc., the lawmaker cited to back up their position/actions?

    Do you owe the lawmaker any additional information?

    Did you send a follow-up letter, e-mail, or note?

  9. Maintain contacts and increase partners; seek advice and collaborate with all concerned
  10. Evaluate results and change methodology or modify strategy when necessary