While you can control plenty of things in life, there are just as many that you can’t. A Congressional vote that didn’t go your way, a natural disaster, a virus outbreak, an economic snafu—if it demands a rapid response to ensure your organization’s safety and security, you’d better hope your advocacy or public affairs team is ready.
Many are not. Whether they’ve failed to segment their lists properly, send personalized emails in a timely fashion or educate lawmakers about your organization’s value, the result could be disastrous.
That’s not the case with CiviClick. Our battle-tested advocacy experience, fueled by next-level technology and backed by an owned-audience database of millions of activists, ensures that we are “always on.” Ours is a year-round approach designed to ensure that your company, nonprofit or trade association is constantly upgrading its advocacy program. Like us, we want you to be second-to-none, the A team that can be counted upon to launch, in needed, a highly effective advocacy campaign on command.
Here’s how we do it:
Always Be Educating
At the top of the list is ABE—Always Be Educating. The best advocacy teams maintain a steady flow of communication that explains client-relevant issues and why they matter. Materials cover the gamut—an email listing “5 Things You Should Know,” a short video, a white paper. The point is to keep the folks on your list continually informed so that when you do hit them with a call to action, they’re primed.
For example, Edutopia, a nonprofit focused on improving pre-K-12 education, has a vast video bank on its website covering teaching from every angle, including 60-second strategies. Likewise, the Manufacturers Alliance website offers an in-depth research and insights page, providing its members with industry news and trends and expert opinions.
Get a Jump on Messaging
If you’re continually educating supporters, that means you’re staying fresh in-house and can create messaging on any issue in advance. You have the time to craft it, check the language with leadership and, as soon as it’s needed, ship it out. Here’s what that messaging can include:
- Talking points about your company or organization
- A detailed description of your position on a news event, trend or specific issue
- Statements from your CEO or executive director or a subject-matter expert
- Content for emails and website pages
- Drafts of press releases
While it’s true that you can’t predict everything that might happen, having these materials in the hopper will help ensure your team is prepared whenever rapid-response advocacy needs arise.
An Evergreen Acquisition Strategy
If your advocacy list isn’t growing, it’s probably shrinking. Advocates move and change jobs, some even disengage. We believe in year-round acquisition. Using multiple channels—from text to email to social—every organization should always be looking to grow its support base.
Events offering education or other content, whether virtual or in-person, tend to attract new supporters because they offer something of value, such as learning or community. And don’t just ask for support—text messaging with shortcodes (e.g. text “action” to 56789) puts the power to join in everyone’s hands. And shortcodes can be shared anywhere, from a poster to a bus stop to a billboard.
These kinds of tactics have all kinds of potential. The point is that, with CiviClick’s help, you can design an acquisition strategy that can be used any day at any time, including when something pops up unexpectedly and you have to move quickly to motivate people to support your cause.
A Well-Stocked Story Bank
We all hear it all the time—how important storytelling is. While facts and figures certainly land, and are important parts of messaging, a story showing how an issue affects a human being wins hearts and minds.
These stories can be shared by CEOs, communications directors and lawmakers who have to justify and explain their positions to constituents. There’s a reason, for example, that so many speeches on the floors of the U.S. Congress reference someone back home in the district: These real, human stories need to be told.
By asking supporters to share their tales, you can develop what every highly effective organization has, a story bank brimming with assets that can be used at just the right moment—in a digital campaign, during a meeting between your lobbyist and a lawmaker, or in an earned media opportunity.
For example, the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation’s website features an Our Why page with both heartbreaking and inspirational stories about kids who’ve been challenged by cancer, and why research for cures and treatments is so important. On the corporate side, Patagonia offers a huge bank of stories linking the company’s brand with tales of adventure, entrepreneurship and environmentalism.
Practice List Segmentation
You also don’t want to undervalue your advocacy lists. Segmenting advocates into groups—by issue, level of activity, location, etc.—enables you to pinpoint targeting and, in turn, take a more personalized approach. And the more you connect with advocates personally, the more likely they are to take action.
One travel tech company, for example, segments its list, appropriately enough, by geography, then identifies the most active advocates within a specific locale. These motivated supporters—some call them “super advocates”—often take action at a much higher rate.
While we’re all busy just about all of the time, every once a while, we do have some down time. That’s when you can think through how best to segment your list for maximum impact. Then, when a rapid-response event arises, you’ll be ready to go.
Recruiting and Training Grasstops Advocates
Last, but not least, make sure that your grasstops advocates are ready for action. As explained in another post, they’re the opposite of your “grassroots,” or from-the-ground-up, advocates. They’re established experts, leaders, politicians, or celebrities—or a combination of all four—who wield influence in places where decisions get made.
And they’re able to take action beyond standard email and phone call outreach, whether that means interacting with the media or meeting in person with public officials. If you want that kind of power, you’ll need to find these supporters and offer them special training.
One way to do that is to gather a group of them on a call to start to ramp up their involvement. You can then begin to phase them in, via education and training. Using down time to build an ambassador program makes your organization stronger when the time comes to get active.
Many of the most effective organizations have developed recruitment-and-training programs, among them the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, which calls its grasstops folks envoys, and the American Society of Association Executives, which offers a very detailed training program.
Many other components can help prepare for rapid-response advocacy: monitoring the media, both mainstream and social, for example, and tracking legislation. An early-warning system that ensures a full view of your political landscape, and boosts your intelligence, enhances readiness.
Always-on, ready-to-go teams make the best use of so-called down time. They educate supporters, boost acquisition, build their story banks and recruit and train grasstops advocates. Bottom line: They’re always engaged in preparation and improvement, in making sure that advocacy is a year-round endeavor.