So part of the benefit of working in Washington, DC is that on any given day, there are experts talking about really interesting and applicable advocacy ideas. I was lucky enough to attend two different seminars this week on advocacy strategy. One was presented by the Public Affairs Council on Digital Media Monitoring, and the other was presented by Advocacy Leaders Network and the Congressional Management Foundation on Psychology in Advocacy. I will spare you all of the nerdy details (that I excitedly blurted out at Tony when I got back to the office), but here are some interesting tidbits I think you all will enjoy:
- Congressmen LOVE site visits. They listed it as the number one most influential activity that an advocate can take in the district.
- Social Media is a valued form of constituent communication. Congressmen are starting to value advocacy via social media just as highly, if not more so, than emails and phone calls. In-person meetings with personal stories will always be the gold standard, but it only takes 10-15 good social media posts on an issue to get attention of an office.
- Share it! “Liking” a post on Facebook or “favoriting” a post on Twitter is good….but the more important action an advocate can take is to Share or Retweet something so that the message reaches a wider audience.
- Your Parent’s are To Blame: From the Psychology of Advocacy: did you know that there are about 9 different types of political worldviews? and that they are heavily influenced by the type of parenting you had a child? People tend to look for leaders who, in either subliminal or more obvious ways, mimic their parents.
- Preconceptions REALLY matter in advocacy. A recent poll was conducted that took traditionally Republican policies, and labeled them as Democrat policies. People who self-reported as a Democrat then ranked those policies favorably. They did the same thing with traditionally Democrat policies, and labeled them Republican policies. People who self-reported as Republican then ranked those issues favorably. The same poll was then conducted with the policies being labeled correctly, and as one would guess, Republicans ranked the policies labeled Republican high, and those labeled Democrat low. Same for the Democrats, even though they were the exact same policies that they had ranked the exact opposite in the first poll. Lesson here? Discuss your issues without using language, people, or ideologies that may hit your audience’s biases. If something is presented as belonging specifically to one party, or one ideology, or one partisan person, people may disregard it even if absent those indicators, they would have supported it. (Humans are strange, huh?)