National political moments have the potential to drive unprecedented digital advocacy success. These moments can be anything from pending legislation, a supreme court decision, to the anniversary of an event. To create a winning political advocacy campaign, it's essential to analyze the national moment, craft a message that resonates with a broad audience, and engage advocates across the web. Building coalitions and sustaining engagement is also key to a political advocacy strategy that can be sustained across advocacy campaigns.
In this article, we'll explore each component of a successful political advocacy strategy and provide actionable insights for leveraging national moments such as new legislation, a major policy announcement, or an anniversary relevant to a cause, to add momentum to a political advocacy campaign.
Analyze the National Moment
Before planning and launching a grassroots political advocacy campaign, it is essential to analyze the target of the campaign.
Starting with this analysis will help identify opportunities and challenges, understand public sentiment, identify which decision-makers to contact, and shape the messaging and engagement strategy. The following sections will break down the analysis into specific parts.
Understanding the public sentiment toward the national moment your organization is targeting is a crucial part of the process of shaping the campaign's messaging and engagement strategy.
This generally involves measuring the public's emotions and attitudes toward the issue at hand. Campaigns can use sentiment analysis tools to measure public sentiment and adjust their messaging accordingly. For example, if public sentiment is negative toward the issue, an organization may need to adjust its messaging to be more positive or focused on solutions.
Campaigns should also track social media conversations, hashtags, and posts around the national moment to gauge public sentiment and identify key themes and issues.
Media coverage can shape public perception of the national moment, making it important to analyze media coverage and identify key narratives and themes. By tracking media coverage of the national moment, an organization can identify key perspectives and shape its messaging accordingly.
Understand the media’s talking points on a moment from both sides of the aisle and track coverage across print and television outlets to build a comprehensive view of the issue. By doing so, a campaign can tailor its messaging to resonate with its target audience and address any misconceptions or inaccuracies in the media coverage.
The political climate surrounding the national moment has a significant impact on the success of advocacy campaigns, particularly when they involve grassroots lobbying.
Analyzing the political climate involves identifying the key stakeholders, influencers, and decision-makers involved in the issue. Understand what these stakeholders takes are, what they are sharing with their supporters, and what matters most to them about the issue.
Use the information gathered from analyzing the political climate to inform messaging, engagement strategy, and opportunities for collaboration and partnerships. Surveys and polls can provide insights into how the public views the national moment and can inform messaging and engagement strategies. This is made easier if you already have an audience of advocates to draw from.
Craft a Message That Will Resonate With a Target Audience
To effectively leverage a national moment, a campaign's message must be relevant to the moment while also aligning with the campaign's and organization’s goals.
When crafting a message, it is important to remember that attention spans are short. A good message will therefore be clear, concise, and memorable.
Here's a message-crafting checklist to produce sticky messaging:
- Keep it simple and to the point - Avoid using jargon or technical terms that may be difficult for the public to understand.
- Use emotional language - A message that appeals to the emotions of the public is more likely to be remembered.
- Make it relevant to the national moment - Tying the message to the national moment helps to increase its relevance and the likelihood of being shared.
- Align with campaign goals - The message must align with the campaign's goals to ensure consistency, credibility, and commitment to the cause.
Examples of Successful Messaging:
- Black Lives Matter - During the Black Lives Matter movement, the message "Black Lives Matter" resonated with the public and was widely used in protests and on social media.
- Climate Change - In the fight against climate change, messaging around the impact of human behavior on the environment has been successful in increasing awareness and promoting change.
- Love is love - The message "Love is Love" was used during Pride month to promote acceptance and equality for the LGBTQ+ community.
Importance of Aligning Internal and External Values:
For effective digital advocacy, it is essential to align an organization's or company’s internal and external values to maintain credibility and authenticity.
By keeping the message simple, tying it to the national moment, and aligning it with campaign goals and internal values, public affairs teams can effectively leverage national moments to build momentum with advocates.
Several successful advocacy campaigns have aligned internal and external values. Some examples include:
- Patagonia - The company's political advocacy campaign and commitment to protecting public lands aligned with its internal values of environmentalism and sustainability.
- JUST Egg - JUST Egg’s campaign “Egging on congress” implored its customers to tell congress they wanted strong provisions for a 2022 climate bill, aligning with its values of creating a sustainable future, starting with the food we eat.
- Ben & Jerry's - Ben & Jerry's political advocacy campaign for climate justice aligned with its internal values of social responsibility and environmentalism.
Create a Strategy for Engaging People Across the Web
Using the web to mobilize people is critical to the success of a political advocacy campaign based on a national moment.
To leverage a time-sensitive moment like a law being passed, a major policy announcement, an anniversary relevant to a cause, a cultural event, or even something as specific as the state of the union address, the campaign must have a strong digital presence that targets the right audience with the right messaging.
- Create a landing page - Create a landing page on the organization's website that is dedicated to the campaign and is optimized for search engines. Include relevant information, such as the campaign's goals, key messages, and calls to action.
- Optimize for mobile - Ensure that the website is optimized for mobile devices, as more than half of website traffic comes from mobile devices.
- Use video - Use videos to tell the campaign's story and share success stories.
Social Media Strategy:
- Identify the right platforms - Determine which social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok, are most relevant to the campaign's target audience.
- Use hashtags - Use relevant hashtags to increase the visibility of the campaign on social media.
- User-generated content - Encourage users to share their own stories and experiences related to the campaign using a specific hashtag. Countable’s platform makes collecting, organizing, and distributing UGC a simple process.
- Influencer partnerships - Partner with influencers who align with the campaign's goals and values to amplify the message.
- Use targeted email lists - Use targeted email lists to reach specific audiences impacted by the national moment, such as employees, customers, investors, volunteers, and donors.
- Keep it short and sweet - Keep emails short and to the point, focusing on the key message and call to action.
- Use visuals - Use visuals, such as images or infographics, to help illustrate the message.
By utilizing a landing page, optimizing for mobile, using social media hashtags, user-generated content, and influencer partnerships, and using targeted email lists, public affairs teams can effectively engage various audiences impacted by the national moment.
In the next section, we’ll discuss how ongoing engagement and education allow a political advocacy campaign to cut through the noise and keep advocates primed for future action.
Ongoing Engagement and Education
To harness a national moment to power your political advocacy, ongoing engagement, and education are essential. Ongoing engagement helps to maintain momentum, advance advocacy efforts, keep organizations' messages top-of-mind, and build relationships with advocates.
Ongoing Engagement Helps to:
- Keep the campaign's message top-of-mind for supporters
- Maintain momentum and enthusiasm
- Build relationships with advocates
- Reach new audiences
- Assess the effectiveness of the campaign's message and adjust as needed
There are Several Types of Ongoing Engagement That a Campaign Can Use, Including:
- Social Media Engagement
Social media is a powerful tool for ongoing engagement. Campaigns can use social media to share updates, news, and calls to action. By engaging with advocates on social media, campaigns can build relationships and keep supporters informed and engaged.
- Email Marketing
Email marketing is another effective way to engage supporters. Campaigns can use email to share updates, news, and calls to action. By providing valuable content in emails, campaigns can build relationships with an advocate and keep them engaged.
- Petitions, Pledges, Surveys, and Actions
Petitions are a powerful tool for engaging an advocate and demonstrating support for a cause. Campaigns can use petitions to collect signatures, email addresses, and other contact information. By collecting this information, campaigns can build relationships with supporters and keep them engaged.
- An Impact Hub
An action center is a hub for supporters to interact with new content and take action on behalf of a campaign. Campaigns can use action centers to provide updates and resources, contact lawmakers on both the state and local level, and engage advocates. By providing supporters with a centralized location to actively participate in a campaign, campaigns can build relationships and keep supporters informed and engaged.
Campaigns can use events to provide supporters with valuable content, such as webinars, panels, and Q&A sessions. By providing supporters with valuable content and opportunities to engage with a campaign, campaigns can foster relationships and keep supporters informed and engaged.
Ongoing education is critical for keeping supporters informed and engaged. Campaigns can use several methods to deliver ongoing education, including:
Blogs are an effective way to provide supporters with valuable content and keep them interested and engaged with the cause. Campaigns can use blogs to share updates, news, and insights related to their cause.
Videos are a powerful way to educate supporters and build relationships with them. Campaigns can use videos to share stories, provide updates, and demonstrate the impact of their cause.
- User-Generated Content Campaigns
User-generated content campaigns are another effective way to educate supporters and build relationships with them. Campaigns can use user-generated content campaigns to collect stories, photos, and videos from supporters. By collecting and sharing this content, campaigns can build relationships with supporters and demonstrate the impact of their cause.
Ongoing engagement allows organizations to better assess how many advocates they will have when they want to run a campaign. By measuring engagement metrics, such as email opens, click-through rates, and petition signatures, campaigns can assess the effectiveness of their ongoing engagement and adjust as needed.
Bonus: Coalition Building
Coalition building is essential during national moments to amplify the campaign's message and demonstrate widespread support for the campaign's cause. It involves building alliances with other organizations that share the same values and goals, creating a collective voice that is more impactful than a single organization working alone. Here's how you can build coalitions effectively:
Identifying Potential Coalition Partners
Research and outreach are key to identifying potential coalition partners. Find organizations that align with your campaign's values and goals, and determine how their goals intersect with your own. Consider their size, reach, and influence to determine if they are a good fit for your coalition.
Effective collaboration is critical to the success of a coalition. Establish clear goals and timelines, define roles and responsibilities, and establish communication channels. Consider using a shared platform or project management tool to facilitate collaboration.
Importance of ongoing engagement in sustaining relationships - Ongoing engagement and education are critical to sustaining relationships with coalition partners. Provide regular updates and opportunities for engagement, and consider collaborating on shared content or campaigns.
An example of a successful coalition-building during a national moment:
Make Time to Vote, a nonpartisan initiative led by Patagonia, Levis, and Paypal, urged companies of all sizes to give employees paid time off on Election Day. Ahead of the 2020 election, Time To Vote created a site for businesses to pledge their commitment to giving employees paid time from work to vote. The organization also provided resources about Election day, early voting, and vote-by-mail options.
Countable's platform made it easy for Make Time to Time To Vote to receive and approve pledges from companies, while an accompanying public hub made it possible for Time To Vote to provide voting resources publicly. Prior to the 2020 election, Time To Vote reached over 2,000 member companies via their Impact Site, ensuring over 10,000,000 employees were guaranteed time to vote.
National moments represent powerful opportunities for public affairs teams to build momentum around their campaigns.
By analyzing the national moment, it is possible to craft a message that resonates with a broad audience and engages stakeholders who are impacted by the national moment.
To capitalize on such an opportunity, a comprehensive digital advocacy strategy should be put in place, consisting of an impact hub, social media, and email outreach.
Ongoing engagement and education are essential for sustaining momentum and building coalitions with other organizations that share the same goals.
Coalition building can be instrumental in amplifying the campaign's message and demonstrating widespread support for its cause.
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