Strategic advocacy communication is key to my journey!

Social Change Communication is key to Advocacy

Strategic advocacy communication is key to my journey!

 “Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the earth.” ― William Faulkner

I am not afraid to raise my voice for honesty, truth, and compassion. I am committed, passionate and motivated when I advocate for change. Strategic advocacy communication is key to my journey!

What is advocacy?

According to Joyce Johnson, writing for Learning to Give, advocacy means to speak up, to plead the case of another, or to fight for a cause. Advocacy, she writes, describes a wide range of expressions, actions, and activities that seek to influence outcomes directly affecting the lives of the people served by the organization. Johnson further states:

Reduced to its most basic level, effective nonprofit advocacy is about communication and relationships.

An effective advocate influences key decision makers. This happens by moving them from understanding and empathy to action. Relationships and strategic advocacy communication underlie this movement.

Strategic advocacy communication is key to my journey!

“If you don’t know where you’re going, it doesn’t matter which way you go!” The Cheshire cat in alice in Wonderland

A plan integrates all an organization’s programs, public education, and advocacy efforts. A long-term strategy positions an organization to be more proactive and strategic, rather than consistently reacting to the existing environment.

I am a firm believer in creating a strategic marketing communications plan. Your plan ensures your organization communicates effectively and meets your organizational goals and objectives.

Elements of an effective strategic marketing communications plan:

  • Goals and Objectives
  • Target Audience
  • Strategies
  • Tactics to Engage Target Audiences
  • Create targeted messages
  • Choose channels to deliver messages
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Work plan
  • Budget
  • Evaluation

Communications Matters created a model designed to help communication practitioners and their colleagues build a common language and a shared understanding of the role that social change communication plays in advancing lasting social changeThis communications model is built around four central pillars: brand, culture, strategy, and action.

  • Brand – Every social change organization, no matter its size or purpose, has three key assets that shape its identity: resources, reputation, and relationships.
  • Culture – Communicating organizations cultivate certain qualities that make their work compelling to others. You may not have all in equal measure, but you need a minimum supply of each to succeed.
  • Strategy – Successful organizations are consistently strategic (deliberate and intentional) about their communication choices, weighing several distinct, yet related, variables before they act.
  • Action – Communicating should never be a one-way activity. Success demands a continuous, virtuous, self-correcting cycle of sending and receiving, plus the ability to cede control.

Social Media for advocacy:

AAUW, empowering women since 1881, suggests these 6 steps to social media for advocacy:

  1. Set your goals. Is your goal narrow (publicizing an event) or broad (building and engaging with a community or coalition)?
  2. Identify your target audiences.
  3. Select the social media platforms you plan to use. Make your choice based on your goals and target audiences. The most well-known are Facebook and Twitter.
  4. Gather resources and materials to create content and share.
  5. Find volunteers to help manage social platforms.
  6. Be sure and integrate into your marketing communications plan.

Blending traditional and new media for advocacy:

The POST Method, developed by Forrester Research, provides a framework for blending traditional and new media. It is really simple, yet profound in that it provides a user-friendly system for using traditional and emerging communications channels. The acronym refers to the four-step approach:

P is People

Don’t start a social strategy until you know the capabilities of your audience. If you’re targeting college students, use social networks. If you’re reaching out to business travelers, consider ratings and reviews. Forrester has great data to help with this, but you can make some estimates on your own. Just don’t start without thinking about it.

O is Objectives

Pick one. Are you starting an application to listen to your customers, or to talk with them? To support them, or to energize your best customers to evangelize others? Or are you trying to collaborate with them? Decide on your objective   before  you decide on a technology. Then figure out how you will measure it.

S is Strategy

Strategy means figuring out what will be different after you’re done. Do you want a closer, two-way relationship with your best customers? Do you want to get people talking about your products? Do you want a permanent focus group for testing product ideas and generating new ones? Imagine you succeed. How will things be different afterward? Imagine the endpoint and you’ll know where to begin.

T is Technology

A community. A wiki. A blog or a hundred blogs. Once you know your people, objectives, and strategy, then you can decide with confidence.

Strategic advocacy communication is key to my journey with  The Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta. We expand opportunities in the lives of Jewish women and girls via effective grant-making, advocacy, and education through a gender lens. As co-chair of the education and advocacy committee, strategic advocacy communication is the framework I use to move decision makers from understanding and empathy to action.

Do you engage in advocacy? I’d love to know if you have any suggestions for best practices with strategic advocacy communications.

Please let us hear from you!

 

 

 

 

Social Change Communication Connects Us!

 

Not about technology

“Communications seeks to connect and move us, to make complex problems seem intuitive and solvable.” Alfred Ironside, Vice President for Global Communications Ford Foundation

Social change communication connects us!

I was introduced to the transformative effect of social change communication when I started working on social change initiatives.

Social change is a process focused on altering the social order of society. It takes place on a local community level or becomes social movements on a grander scale.

In an earlier post, I described the 5 Indicators of Social Change:

  1. Make New Meaning
  • Shift definitions – An issue or idea is given new meaning. A community or society sees the issue differently. For example, rape is understood as an act of violence with legal and civil consequences, not as an act of sexual transgression.
  1. Empower Different Behavior
  • Shift behavior – An individual and/or community does things differently and for the better. This creates empowerment. For example, women seek appropriate healthcare for themselves and their families.
  1. Life Up Collective Power
  • Shift engagement – More people are engaged in an idea of action. When enough people get involved they are noticed, their voices are heard and they create impact.
  1. Ensure Just Policy
  • Shift policy – Policies and practices change to better serve social change ideas.
  1. Hold the Line
  • Maintain gains – Work to not lose ground from previous endeavors. For example, funding for breast cancer research is saved from budget cuts.

Transformative communication is a process whereby people are challenged and empowered to change belief systems and behaviors.

Social Change Communication Tools

  • Social Change Communication is critical at every stage. This begins from the moment someone shares her passion and connects with others, through the exchange of ideas. Communication provides the frame for advocacy and activism. It is central to sustaining the social movement itself, as well as in shaping how the movement influences social change. “We are one but we are many.” (Panos London)
  • Narrative communication recount stories, express opinions or give information about past events from the perspective of the storyteller. Narratives provide an experience people can understand and share.

“I know from experience that when two people sit down to tell stories from their lives and to listen, something happens. Together maybe they learn, they forgive, they cry, they remember. Something in them moves, even if it’s just a tiny bit. Storytelling and Social Change offers valuable guidance for people who want to use the practice of telling and listening to stories to make a positive difference in their communities.” —Dave Isay, founder and president of StoryCorps

 

  • The rise of social media holds promise for increased social change communication. Social network websites such as Facebook provide easy ways to find and connect with people who have similar feelings.
  • New media platforms are used to launch viral campaign and create digital waves.

Jennifer Aaka and Andy Smith, authors of The Dragonfly Effect, show how social media technology can support social missions. Nonprofit consultant Beth Kanter has shown how social media tools have been used to create social change, including helping children in Cambodian orphanages.

  • The POST Method, developed by Forrester Research, provides a framework for blending traditional and new media. It is really simple, yet profound in that it provides a user-friendly system for using traditional and emerging communications channels. The acronym refers to the four-step approach:

P is People

Don’t start a social strategy until you know the capabilities of your audience. If you’re targeting college students, use social networks. If you’re reaching out to business travelers, consider ratings and reviews. Forrester has great data to help with this, but you can make some estimates on your own. Just don’t start without thinking about it.

O is Objectives

Pick one. Are you starting an application to listen to your customers, or to talk with them? To support them, or to energize your best customers to evangelize others? Or are you trying to collaborate with them? Decide on your objective   before  you decide on a technology. Then figure out how you will measure it.

S is Strategy

Strategy here means figuring out what will be different after you’re done. Do you want a closer, two-way relationship with your best customers? Do you want to get people talking about your products? Do you want a permanent focus group for testing product ideas and generating new ones? Imagine you succeed. How will things be different afterward? Imagine the endpoint and you’ll know where to begin.

T is Technology

A community. A wiki. A blog or a hundred blogs. Once you know your people, objectives, and strategy, then you can decide with confidence.

  • Social marketing, not to be confused with social media marketing,  is the systematic application of marketing to achieve specific behavioral goals for a social good. Social marketing is said to have “two parents”—a “social parent,” created from social sciences and social policy, and a “marketing parent,”  developed from commercial and public sector marketing approaches.

Social change communication brings people together to work collectively for the betterment of their lives and communities. It provides opportunities for engagement and inclusion like never before!

How does social change communication influence your work? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

The basis of this post is an article I wrote for CharityChannel Press entitled Importance of Communication to Social Movements and Social Change.

My next post focuses on the importance of communication to successful advocacy.