Friday, October 14, 2011

Advocacy Tips: Tie in a Winning Message

The pressure is on for Congress to make difficult decisions about where to cut federal spending. Congress has until November 18th to finalize appropriations for Fiscal Year 2012 that include $7 billion in cuts compared to Fiscal Year 2011 (or else pass another Continuing Resolution), and the Select Committee on Deficit Reduction has until November 23rd to devise and agree on a plan to reduce the federal deficit by $1.2 trillion over ten years. If you’re worried that the programs that are important to you are on the chopping block, now is the time the ramp up your advocacy efforts and make sure your legislators know why these programs should remain in place. While most of your arguments will be narrowly focused, there are a couple of strategic themes which transcend any issue area that you should consider for your messaging.

The first strategic theme is jobs, jobs, jobs. In case you haven’t noticed, Congress is very aware of the high unemployment rate in this country. You may have even heard one or two sound bites of a Member of Congress talking about the importance of job creation (okay, more like one or two thousand sound bites). Unless you’re advocating for the Jobs Are Overrated Association, you can probably find a way to talk about how these federal programs help your industry create jobs. So do it.

The second point you should be making is how this issue affects their constituency. Although you are most likely fighting for federal programs that are implemented nationwide, your legislators need to hear exactly how these programs affect the people in their districts. It’s okay to include the ways in which these programs better the country as a whole, but the focus should be on statistics that tell a local story—What percentage of their constituents benefit from this program? How many jobs will this program create in their district?

Keep these ideas in mind as you develop your advocacy game plan and you’ll increase your chances of getting positive feedback.

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