Legislative Advocacy is becoming more talked about and more important for business owners. Advocacy is the term used to describe activities that are done to influence a decision-maker. This can be anything from forming networks to lobbying to litigation. It’s a way for us as individuals, groups, organizations, or businesses to be heard in hopes of changing the decision-maker’s mind in a particular direction. The goal of advocacy is to have an impact on the outcome. Since businesses have become the most trusted institutions today, CEO’s are encouraged to discuss public policies in accordance with the annual reports. It has been proven that consumers are more likely to care about a business that shows a standing in their beliefs.
Companies and Advocacy
A few corporate companies have taken advocacy into their company morals. For example, NAMI advocates on behalf of individuals with mental illness and their families. They advocated the Affordable Care Act in 2017 by using the grassroots technique. The Texas Realtors took advocacy day to a virtual action month. IHRSA generated over 60,000 emails to Congress to raise awareness for their campaign. Although these companies sound like their approaches were different, they are all examples of effective means of legislative advocacy. But the question remains: why is public advocacy important to business owners?
Legislative advocacy is essential for a few different reasons as a business owner. Because advocacy bridges the gap between our decision-makers and the people who vote, it’s our way of having a say, even if it feels like it was not heard. State legislators, members of Congress, and city council members are our everyday decision-makers. Since these people are public figures, their supporters and nonsupporters are noticed. Therefore, advocacy has a better chance of being heard. As a business owner, becoming actively involved can potentially help raise enough awareness to protect what you believe in. The policies that are or are not enforced can sometimes make or break a business. Different types of public advocacy exist today, so a business owner may want to be aware of the different approaches to advocate effectively.
Types Of Legislative Advocacy
The various types of legislative advocacy range from grassroots to media campaigns to activism. Let’s briefly put these in perspective by starting with lobbying. Lobbying occurs when someone communicates directly to members of Congress or a government official in hopes of influencing their decision. Usual lobbying tactics involve in-person meetings, written communication, or something as simple as a phone call. A bigger part of lobbying occurs in advising. Advising is educating the decision maker on your specific topic in hopes of persuading them into what you believe is correct. Advising also occurs in social media campaigns. Social media campaigns occur when a media outlet is used to raise awareness on a specific issue or topic in hopes of raising urgency to the public. If successful, other like-minded businesses can have the opportunity to band together to make their opinion heard louder. Two more common media outlets are usually a newspaper or website ad. However, because social media allows users, groups, or businesses to connect with people, share information, and organize events, this has become an increasingly popular choice for campaigning beliefs. Grassroots advocacy is the opposite and requires a more hands-on approach. This approach requires citizens to come together to take action. Now this may occur by a simple method such as writing to Congress, passing a petition, or participating in a protest. As previously mentioned, NAMI used the grassroots approach when the Affordable Care Act came about in 2017. They emailed their advocates and directed their recipients to visit their online action center. As a result, they motivated 1,066 advocates to participate in a Hill Day. IHRSA used an email campaign for key policy issues and generated over 60,000 emails to Congress. Then you have activism. Activism also plays a part in grassroots advocacy. Because grassroots advocacy includes protests, activism gets attached. Activism occurs when awareness is raised in one of two methods, protests or demonstrations. Demonstrations are usually the lesser of the two, as they usually involve people holding signs on the sidewalk. However, it can shift to a higher approach, like someone handcuffing themselves to a tree or permanent object. We have previously seen corporate companies like Uber, Chick-fil-A, and Hobby Lobby advocate using activism. Although advocating may seem like a simple process, it requires some dedicated time and attention.
Advocating may seem like a simple process to some, but it does require specific steps to advocate effectively. The first step is to complete your research, so you can then decide which approach will be best to get your message across effectively. Identify the issue and know your facts. Missing this step can hinder the campaign rather quickly. It’s important to listen to people around you, especially those you are trying to support. Engaging in the community is a great way to help with this and should be part of your advocating strategy. Make sure to build relationships with all people. And lastly, don’t give up. Remember, an effective advocate has to stay strong for what they believe in but in a professional, caring matter. Be assertive but not aggressive.
As a recap, legislative advocacy is important for both individuals all the way to business owners. Legislative advocacy is often used to show support or criticize a particular class’s policies like education, healthcare, or environmental regulations. Advocacy is the act of trying to influence the person or group that makes the decisions whether to pass or not to pass a new law or regulation. The policy part of legislative advocacy refers to the rules or principles that guide the decision-making process and its actions. One can advocate using the grassroots approach, lobbying, media campaigns, advising, or activism. However, if you advocate, remember to follow the steps needed and keep your tactic assertive but not aggressive. Allow your business to be heard, but not in a negative way!