When it comes to advocating on behalf of your organization’s priorities, there is never a down time. The fall is full of activities, including the development of the Governor’s budget, the start of discussions on bills that may be introduced or reintroduced in the legislature, and new legislation and proposed policy changes at the City level.
The fall is also the time to develop a formal plan for your future advocacy campaigns. This one, comprehensive plan should contain clear timelines, identify responsible parties and include target government audiences, coalition members and other supporters as well as winning messages and supporting data; staffing and other resources and communications tactics and timelines.
Here is our list of the top six things you should be doing right now:
•Pay attention to the priorities of the Governor, your target State Legislators, the Mayor, and your target City Council Members. Through persuasive messages, connect your issue to their priorities.
•Develop and distribute impactful one-pagers, fact sheets, and postcards on your cause. Include personal stories to humanize your issue (HatchforGood.org has a free suite of tools).
•Generate media coverage for your issue. Hold a press conference, set up interviews with reporters, and write a letter to the editor or an op-ed. The Livery Roundtable recently wrote and placed an op-ed in City and State (this outlet’s sister publication) timed to coincide with a series of roundtables held by the State Legislature on topics relevant to their cause.
•Invite your target policy makers to learn more about your issue area by giving them a tour of your program (take a photo for your newsletter, post about the visit on social media, and consider inviting the press). Or, find another creative way to engage them with the people you serve. AARP-NY recently held a Tele Town Hall with NYC Public Advocate Letitia James, and 9,000 AARP members joined in to discuss housing, transportation and financial security issues. Similar events were held with the Mayor and the NYC Comptroller.
•Keep an eye out for hearings that may be pertinent to your issue area, including those at City Hall or the Capitol and in-district hearings, town halls and Participatory Budget meetings. Remember: out of sight, out of mind – so make a point to be heard and seen by decision-makers.
•Build and engage your coalition. Give members something they can do with relative ease, but that will still have an impact on your campaign like signing on to a letter, emailing a targeted policy maker, being active on social media, or showing up to a press conference or rally. The Jails Action Coalition recently engaged its broad membership and recruited new supporters in an effort to change proposed Department of Correction regulations. Their efforts included a widely-covered press conference, a rally, a series of letters sent to the administration (signed by a wide and growing coalition), a Thunderclap campaign, and other social media engagement. They successfully secured the attention of key decision makers.
Invest the time now – before the frost arrives – to do some of these activities, and you will not be frozen out come the New Year.