Advocacy Rules – Dancing with Politicians
This is a reminder for myself more than anyone reading it. Just hit a slowdown on a project I’ve been working on for a few months in some ways, and all my life in others. So it’s personal and i’m invested. So yeah, frustrated.
rule # 1 – (attention)
It doesn’t matter how good your cause is, or even if they agree with it, there has to be an audience for their time, attention to be had.
Their backers are best, but media will do in a pinch. Doesn’t even matter if it’s MSM or social sites, so long as people are walking by. They are media hogs.
rule # 2 – (timing)
Your cause is heard loud(er) if they’re up for re-election and it fits their parties’ platform. Esp if they think the opposing parties have dropped the ball and they can make them look bad. That they got to this first. They are ego hogs.
rule # 3 – (shame)
rarely works, so use it judiciously.
rule # 4 – (face)
Ordinary taxpaying citizens are never enough. Doesn’t matter how many there are. So if it’s a celeb or a ‘face’ that will attract sympathy as well as attention, it’s more effective than any number of people will ever be. Make it someone they can relate to or admire.
rule # 5 – (small acts)
Get them on a roll or wave of behaviour. A chain of small actions is far better than asking for a one-time big faviour. It becomes part of their routine, and they’re invested by having it there.
rule # 6 – (payment)
Find a way to pay them. Whether it’s money, food, attention, praise they won’t do it for free.
rule # 7 – (relatable)
To the crowd but more importantly to the party’s goals and the politician’s life, what you ask has to be something they see as relevant to them, their friends and family, and them. An investment now could be important in the future to a person they care about. Health is a good general one, but if they have kids, so is education.
rule # 8 – (midstream)
You cannot seem like a wingnut when you communicate with them. So go scream when the train goes by, then write your letter or make your call. And ask for middle-of-the-road plausible things in small bites. At least to get them in the door. Do not come off as an emo. That has to be their investment.
It helps if you show your work, just like math class. They’re more willing to help you if you do the leg work.
Another part of not being perceived as a wingnut, is that you cannot be the sole advocate. They rarely look at you then. As well, it’s a crazy ride and you do need the support if you want to survive it.
rule # 9 – (idealism)
many politicians go into it actually wanting to help. The number of people affected by the problem grows the farther they are away from seeing the faces, lives involved. And the longer they’re in the seat. The higher their seat is. So if you can’t introduce them to the many people they can shake hands with, show them the crowd size and one person.
rule # 10 – (is for you – patience)
It’s going to be a long road to get anywhere, No matter what level you engage with. And no matter how invested they are (and in the early days that is very little), it will be a dance of two forward, one back. So find ways to recognize and celebrate the small achievements. And be sure they see the progress the cause is making.
At least that is my experience…..