Learn from seventy great minds about advocacy advice! Click here to read the original article on Connectivity.
By Ann Dermody
How would you like to have your own personal government relations or advocacy mentor on speed dial?
Even, if you’d been in the business for years?
Well, we’re about to give you the next best thing.
We conducted 70, (yes, 70!) interviews with some of the leading minds in the worlds of government relations, nonprofit, advocacy, public policy, and fundraising, and asked them four pertinent questions:
- What advocacy skill have I learned over time, or do I wish I had my first day on the job?
- Having tried a bunch, the best advocacy strategy I rely on is …?
- When I’m planning an advocacy campaign, the first thing I always do is …
- What would be the most useful advocacy training?
Just FYI, we asked them a bunch of other questions too, and we’ll give you the full picture of what they had to say soon (including epic campaign fails and successes) – but more of that good stuff later.
For now, here’s a taster of some of the best advocacy strategies, tips and tricks they’ve learned from many collective years toiling in the world of legislation and advocacy.
And when you’ve finished reading, don’t forget to download our great free eBook: The Advocacy Planning, Strategy and Skills Guide.
Finally, to everyone who took part, a big thank you!
And to everyone reading, this is one you’ll want to bookmark!
What’s the greatest advocacy skill I’ve learned over time, or what advocacy skill do I wish I had had the first day on the job?
A better understanding of how advocates use social media. In my job, I’m constantly checking Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds for the latest news and updates on client campaigns, but most advocates don’t have the time to stay this connected. Many advocates favor one channel over the other, and are often not checking their social media feed until later in the evening or on the weekends. So, learning how to communicate more effectively to my audience has been critical to ensuring a successful campaign. – Carolyn Weems, VP, The Herald Group
“Knowing when to be persistent and realizing that if your efforts for change do not succeed this year, there is always next year.” – Frank Harris, Director of State Government Affairs, MADD
I didn’t have an appreciation for the value of relationships. When you work on issues, you think ‘policy’ — which is important — but I didn’t realize or appreciate how important it is to not only have the right message, but to have the right messenger. You can be more acutely effective with the right messenger. – Chip Felkel, CEO of Rap Index
Enthusiasm. If you are passionate about what you do, they will listen. People want to be around people who love what they do. Most people these days want to find a driving purpose for their life. So even if your topic isn’t their immediate interest, your enthusiasm might just persuade them to get involved! – Pamela Hawley, CEO, Universal Giving
I wish I could have had the public speaking presence I have had to develop over many years in my advocacy work. – Meredith Nethercutt, Senior Associate Member Advocacy, SHRM
Networking: specifically, knowing how to strike up a conversation with a stranger or butt into the middle of a conversation between three or four people. – David L. Rosen, Press Officer, Regulatory Affairs, Public Citizen and Founder of First Person Politics
… social media experience. Members of Congress love to use social media and it can be an incredibly powerful and engaging tool. We now recommend social media strategies to all of our clients as part of their overall advocacy initiative.” – Lincoln Clapper, Director Sales & Marketing, Prime Advocacy
“Live social video streaming didn’t exist when I started at Greenpeace, but I wish it did!” – Ryan Schleeter, Online Editor, Greenpeace USA blog
Database and email management skills. Communication to our supporters is key. Once we’ve captured their emails then it’s up to us to engage, educate and inspire. It cannot replace face-to-face interactions but it allows us to control the message, and hopefully turn the mildly interested supporter into a fully engaged advocate. – Jason Amaro, Southwest Chapter Coordinator, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers
I wish I had a better handle on logistics when I first started. Time management when juggling multiple campaigns and issues can be tough. – Mark J. Walsh, Campaign Director, Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence
There are a few great advocacy skills I’ve learned from my mentors over the years that I now carry with me every day.
- Develop a solid team.
- Be persistent, but patient
- Issue campaigns are like marathons not sprints
- Define the win up front. – Christine Hill, Deputy Legislative Director, Sierra Club
Listening. When you get your hands on an issue you believe in, it’s easy forget the other voices in the room. The false consensus effect can derail even the strongest campaign. People assume that one point of view is the same as everyone else’s, and too often, people build their campaign from that false consensus. I found that it is best to anchor your advocacy campaign in facts. – Gerry Gunster, CEO, Goddard Gunster