Kick-off 2021 with the first in a four-part series by PoliTraQ founder Chris Moffatt Armes, on positioning your advocacy efforts. Published every Monday in January, this series will offer practical tips to apply to your next pre-budget submission or general advocacy campaign.
Part 3: The power of third-party champions
A third consideration for any advocacy push - pre-budget or otherwise - is to identify those voices outside your organization who can champion your proposal with key decision-makers. This is where effective government relations practitioners can really show their value.
No advocacy issue exists in a vacuum. Just as one doesn’t need to be a healthcare provider to care about health policy, interest regarding a specific issue doesn’t have to be limited to a given member, riding, committee, or ministry.
Perhaps a member of the committee has ties to your sector from their pre-political career, or represents a riding which would benefit from your proposal. A separate outreach to them could be the difference between your submission standing out, or being lost in the mix.
Every touchpoint increases the degree of familiarity that your audience (in this case, elected officials, senior bureaucrats, and their staff) has with your proposal.
The greater familiarity with your proposal - including its benefits, its alignment with government priorities, and its capacity to “move the needle” on key policy considerations - the more likely it is that someone in a decision-making role will become familiar with your proposal.
If you have experience in the world of marketing, this makes perfect sense. A customer can’t buy your product if they don’t know you exist. As the cost - both monetary and otherwise - of a purchase increases, the degree of familiarity that the customer needs in order to feel comfortable purchasing your product increases as well.
Expanding your outreach to potential internal champions, in effect, widens the top of your “funnel” and increases familiarity with your ask. As potential champions move through the funnel - engaging you further, learning more about your proposal, and possibly shifting from neutral or soft supporters to active internal evangelists - decision-makers come to learn about your proposal through both formal channels and word-of-mouth from colleagues. These sorts of soft reference endorsements can be incredibly persuasive - especially when they come from colleagues or trusted subordinates, whose recomendations come with added weight.
Again, anyone familiar with the world of marketing can attest to the value of word-of-mouth. Audiences know that you think your product is the best, but when they hear that opinion from someone without a direct link back to your company, it carries that person’s implied endorsement with it.
Depending on the nature of your industry, there may also be the opportunity to align with your comparators and/or any relevant sector-wide advocacy organisations. These sorts of collaborative advocacy efforts are likely more common in the broader public sector and amongst not-for-profit organisations, though some private sector organisations may also work collaboratively on sector-specific advocacy.
In contrast to the internal champion approach, sector advocacy amplifies its message in two ways.
First, a large coalition of organisations (or one representing a large number of individuals) serves to highlight the depth and breadth of a particular policy concern. Government can’t act on problems it doesn’t know are out there, but it’s capacity to address problems is finite. There is strength in numbers, and it truly is the squeeky wheel that gets the grease. Building an advocacy coalition not only helps bring the issue to the government’s attention, but can help demonstrate the scale of impact (and possible votes at stake) should a problem continue.
Second, sector outreach is both bolstered by, and serves to amplify, the outreach efforts of each constituent group - further increasing familiarity within the halls of power. A coalition likely have different (but overlapping) networks of contacts, allowing you to reach and influence a larger total target audience. Further, because of the inherent overlap in contacts, key decision-makers will learn about your issue or proposal from multiple sources, allowing you to leverage many of the brand-building benefits referenced above.
Being able to leverage external champions be can make a substantial impact on your advocacy goals, and elevate the stature of your client in the minds of your target audience. Leveraging and continuing this momentum becomes much simpler when you have an effective way of tracking your engagement activities.
By using a GR-focused CRM like PoliTraQ, you and your team will be able to make real, data-driven decisions, monitor progress on KPI’s and demonstrate the value of your advocacy efforts. To learn more or to arrange a demo, please visit PoliTraQ or email Chris@PoliTraQ.com.