Just like in high school when we encouraged our friends to “K.I.T.” (“keep in touch”) with us during the summer months when signing yearbooks, organizations should be engaged in keeping in touch with their advocates on a year-round basis. However, there is a strategic element to the types of messages that are sent out to particular advocates…
Advocate leaders will need to communicate with a variety of audiences within the advocate network, including:
- Existing or potential grassroots network members
- Existing or potential grasstops network members
- Existing or potential coalition members
Within these broad categories, an understanding of the following details about advocates will be essential to effective communications.
- State / District of residency or work: In order to facilitate effective advocate actions based on constituency, advocate leaders must be able to match members of the advocate network with their relevant policymakers. This includes, where possible, both residency connections as well as corporate connections.
- Connections to legislators: In addition, the work done in early network development stages to identify “grasstops”-style connections (i.e., that an advocate has a friendship or business relationship with an elected official) will be helpful in better targeting messages to relevant advocates.
- Expertise / anecdotal connections to issues: Advocate leaders should also be able to identify quickly and easily those advocates with a compelling story to tell and/or those with a strong expertise in the issues. This information can be used to identify potential grasstops advocates and/or advocates that can testify in front of committees or help draft responses to regulatory rulemakings.
The effectiveness of the communications can be further improved by segmenting the audience based on the following measures:
- Level of interest / involvement in the advocacy effort: Advocates that are more active may be more willing to receive multiple communications.
- Topics of interest: If an organization manages a wide range of policy issues, it may be appropriate to ask advocates what topics they are most interested in hearing about.
In short, different audiences may receive different types of communications (for example, potential members of the network will receive recruitment communications whereas existing members will not). In addition, certain strategies may work with one type of audience, but not another (for example, grasstops members may be far more receptive to a “pull” approach, such as a social network). Having a strong understanding of the audience will enhance the advocate leader’s success in communicating messages.
For more information or to purchase the Advocacy Handbook click here.