Part 5: Activating Your Audience
July 7, 2016
Teresa Stepic, Vice President, Client Relations
All aspects of a campaign lead up to the very reason why advocacy campaigns exist: to motivate your audience to take meaningful actions that net real change. When you are facing an important legislative or regulatory hurdle, you need to know how to cut through the chatter and ensure your audience hears your message and delivers it to the right decision-makers.
The key is blending traditional advocacy communications with modern day channels to create a unified approach to your campaign. As you align your internal assets (e.g., lobbying efforts, activities being conducted by internal brand ambassadors, etc.) with your external allies, you are better prepared to deliver the results you need to move the needle.
Part 5: Activating Your Audience
1. Activate Stakeholders Where They Live
Today we are able to push information out to our audiences in a multitude of ways; this makes it critical that you not only reach your advocates through digital and traditional channels, but also relate to them on a local level. Members of Congress want to hear the personal stories of their constituents—how an issue will impact their family, their job, their community—not a form letter with standard messaging. Communications delivered organically from real advocate voices create the authenticity that resonates with decision-makers. Unique, personalized advocate letters that combine issue-specific content with personal stories via an online platform can influence legislators far more than form letters.
Advocacy websites or landing pages serve as central communication hubs for your campaign and are equipped with action functionality to generate emails to the Hill. New technology and social media platforms create unlimited ways to engage stakeholders and raise visibility of your issue in real time. Smart campaigns utilize Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and other social platforms to encourage message dissemination and engagement. A hashtag strategy can encourage organic growth of your campaign and allows policymakers to follow your perspective with ease.
Phone programs continue to play a crucial role in today’s advocacy world. When you need to push your message over the finish line, phone programs can help you get there. Connecting personally with highly engaged advocates can empower them to reach out directly to their legislator. This high-touch type of outreach from a constituent could influence a policymaker as they are walking out the door to cast their vote on your issue.
2. Leverage Field Resources to Shape Your Campaign & Make Local Inroads
Many times the most effective way to move a policymaker on an issue is to influence their hometown constituents. On-the-ground field teams can provide authentic messaging that speaks directly to these audiences through local communications outlets. Recruiting local legislators and community leaders to champion your issue, building coalitions to raise awareness, gleaning local intelligence, and generating valuable insight all enhance your issue-based campaigns at a more regional level.
3. Tap Grasstops Advocates
Policymakers depend on community leaders to learn how an issue will impact constituents. Identifying issue-relevant influencers who can speak about the impact of legislation on their communities is crucial to having your message reach a policymaker. Key influentials can be mobilized in targeted districts and states to influence lawmakers and their senior staff in direct and indirect ways. These outreach actions can have far-reaching impacts on how an issue is viewed within a policymaker’s home state or district.
4. Connect Advocates with Lawmakers In-Person Opportunities
In-person events generate in-person results. When paired with other tactics, personal interaction in public venues creates even more dynamic and successful campaigns. This type of engagement activity gives educated and dedicated advocates the opportunity to convey your message to a legislator face-to-face. Town halls, fly-ins, and events are all in-person ways to connect your organization to your advocates and ultimately to important policymakers.
Effective public affairs campaigns take a 360-degree view of the situation at hand while staying focused on the ultimate goal. Cultivating a two-way conversation and offering the right engagement opportunity builds trust, grows commitment, and inspires action from your advocates.
Combining the strategies we’ve discussed throughout this series can create a successful public affairs campaign. Isn’t it time you get started on building a sustainable advocacy program to support your organization’s issue priorities?