Thursday, December 15, 2011

Today in U.S. History, The Bill of Rights was Ratified

December 15 1791, the Bill of Rights was ratified and became an important part of our nation’s highest document, the United States Constitution. The Bill of Rights was an essential part of a compromise during the drafting of the constitution that if left off, several states and delegates would have refused to sign or ratify the Constitution.
The impacts of the first ten amendments are impressed on us every day. We are taught these rights and their implications in history class from elementary school to college. The INS citizenship test includes several questions regarding the Bill of Rights. Nations around the world built their Constitutions and Bills of Rights using the United States as an example. Many of the issues in today’s politics are rooted in the belief that one or more of these basic rights are under attack. Debates regarding the recently passed defense reauthorization bill that some people charge as a violation of the 5th and 6th amendments or the markup of the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act and violation of the 1st amendment (free speech).
We are lucky to live in a country where these rights exist and tough conversations and debates can happen openly and nonviolently. As an advocate for your cause or organization, you are taking full advantage of the rights our founding fathers fought for and wanted to be used. Be proud and keep advocating.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Tweets Now Archived at Library of Congress

Here on our blog, we talk a lot about how important Social Media is to any person or organization’s advocacy campaign. With this in mind, I found an interesting article yesterday that announced that Twitter and The Library of Congress have signed an agreement that EVERY PUBLIC TWEET EVER SENT will be archived in the Library’s historical record. The only tweets to not be archived are those marked private by the user.

This agreement between Twitter and the Library of Congress will obviously have strong implications. First, every public tweet your organization ever sends out will now be on record. Conversely, every public tweet Congresspersons, Senators, and Candidates send will also be on permanent record. For this reason, the carelessness some people,organizations, and politicians have with tweets will be even more costly in the future. Second, once the archive has been built up, we might have the capability to research twitter trends to track public opinion on certain issues. This could be a real game changer.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Keep that Winter Chill Away with the Flames of Passion (For Advocacy)!

We’re nearing the end of the year, temperatures will soon drop to below freezing, and you might be ready to take off your advocacy cap, throw on a Snuggie, and hibernate until Spring rolls around. But don’t give in to this temptation, because this is actually a very important time for your advocacy movement. Here are a few things you can do in December to ramp up your advocacy efforts.

  •         Gear up for next year. It’s time to create an advocacy agenda for 2012. Take a look back at what you accomplished this year and decide where you want to be by the end of next year. Do you want to focus on increasing your advocate base? Making them more active? Getting legislation passed? Pick one or two main areas for improvement and build a plan around achieving your new goals. Consider what relevant legislative battles could potentially come up in 2012 and decide how you want to tailor your advocacy in the context of November elections. Take the time to ask your members for feedback and ask them what tools would help them be better advocates next year.

  •        Meet with Members back in the district. At some point in December your Members of Congress will be back in their districts. Ask your legislators to do a site visit or hold a meeting with you in one of their district offices. This is a great opportunity to show your legislators why your industry or cause is important to their constituents. If you can’t get a meeting with the Member, take some time to meet with their district office staff members. Building these relationships now will be beneficial to you down the line when the 2013 budget battle begins in February (that is, if they ever resolve the 2012 budget battle..)

Keep up the good work and you’ll be better prepared for the upcoming legislative year. Once you’ve done this, then you can treat yourself to some eggnog, toss on that Snuggie, and enjoy the Holidays knowing you were a good little advocate this year. 

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Top Models and Advocacy

One of my many guilty pleasures (in addition to Star Trek – see an earlier blog posting) is watching America’s Next Top Model. For the uninitiated, ANTM features very beautiful people doing beautiful things and taking beautiful pictures in beautiful places. This season, the models are developing a “brand” beyond simply being beautiful. These brands are generally associated with one word, like “free” or “classy.”

How does this relate to advocacy? I promise it does, just stick with me here. I’ve noticed that some of the models are much better than others at finding a brand that really reflects their personality. One of them, for example, is “fun” – and she’s certainly fun (maybe not my definition of fun, but fun none-the-less). Another is “creepy.” She’s creepy. Really creepy. There are vampires involved. These models tend to win branding-oriented challenges because they are crystal clear on who they are and what they’re about.

The least successful models, on the other hand, have picked brands that really don’t reflect their personalities. The model who chose “free” for example, is one of the most rigid people I’ve seen (and I’m getting that through a television screen, so it must be pretty bad).

This rule about being clear about who you are and what you want applies to advocacy as well. In order to succeed, you must be perfectly honest with yourself about the strengths and weaknesses of your advocacy argument and how you want to present it to others. In addition, you must feel an authentic enthusiasm for your cause. It must fit you like a glove or, using our analogy, a couture dress