Whether the decision makers you need to persuade are school board members, city councilors, county, commissioners, or even business owners, try to understand their concerns and reframe your message in a way that respects their perspective. If you’ve never communicated with elected officials, it can be difficult to know where to start. Here are some tools that can help you navigate this crucial step:
- Tips for Communicating with Policymakers provides concrete tips for contacting and communicating with policymakers.
- The 27-9-3 Rule: Developing Your Persuasive Message can assist you in developing brief persuasive messages for different audiences.
- Effective Advocacy at All Levels of Government is an online toolkit with tools and information about the how you can engage in advocacy efforts.
In addition to delivering your message to decision makers directly, you can use media advocacy to reach them and to encourage their constituents to do the same. The Key Activity, Build public & political will, talks about developing a communications plan for educating members of the community in general, and ultimately decision makers, about your issue. Media advocacy takes your communication with these two groups to a different level. You’ve educated them, and now you’re asking them to take action. You’re asking decision makers to vote your way, and you’re asking their constituents to amplify your request that they do so. The first step in this is to be clear about the lobbying rules as they apply to your organization – see the Key Activity, Deliver your message, for guidance on this. Once you understand the boundaries for your advocacy work, it’s time to get started.
Message development is a critical first step in formulating your media advocacy strategy. Determine your main message and test it if possible. You will want to connect your messages to your audience. For more on message development see Meta Messaging: Framing your case and reinforcing your allies. Once you develop your main messages, you will want to write your content and develop materials such as fact sheets, frequently asked questions (FAQ), social media content, and talking points for coalition spokespersons.