As the pundits and analysts continue to dig into the successes and failures of the 2012 election cycle, we’ve seen a slew of recommendations and best practices that those of us working in the advocacy world will review and adopt in our day-to-day work. But what about applying some best practices that emanate from the advocacy world?
Advocacy groups know the nitty-gritty of turning everyday people into activists, even if the issue is not a sexy one. While the campaign trail is a great place to pick up some tactics, the battled-scarred advocacy professionals from Capitol Hill to Sacramento also have plenty to offer.
Here are some key lessons that campaigns can learn from those of us mired in the business of getting people excited and engaged beyond the boundaries of the election cycle:
Processes & Pliability
A flexible staff and a set of strategic processes can go a long way to presenting quality content. In campaign life while you may get briefed on all issues, more often than not your media person is just your media person and your political person is just your political person. Because they are thinking beyond the end goal of an election, advocacy organizations have processes in place to help break through the silos and create stronger content by working together.
Advertise to Scale
Bigger isn’t always better. In the campaign world you hear a lot of chatter about targeting within a large ad buy, but in the advocacy world it’s the smaller successes that make the difference. Small, focused ad buys on social media networks can be a great way to communicate to the influencers who will help get things done without drying up your bank account.
Leveraging Like-Minded Entities
While an “every man for themselves” strategy can serve campaigns in the short term, taking a hint from advocacy groups and connecting with other organizations with similar goals on a specific campaign can lead to some long-term payoffs.
Build Playful Sub-Brands
Candidates and advocacy groups both need to stay on message, but sometimes it helps to think outside the box. Many traditionally stiff organizations have had great success with integrating creative content. Consider branching out and adopting popular memes that could fit within your message. If you do, your audience will be more inclined to go the extra mile to volunteer, participate and vote.
Engagement Doesn’t End on Election Day
For all the criticism of the constant campaign, it’s amazing to see how many public figures have abandoned their channels now that the election is over. Advocacy groups know that if you want to get people to take an action you can’t just ask them and then not engage. Instead, campaigns should use the channels they are active on during the election to promote issues they care about afterwards—whether things turned out the way they wanted or not.
Henri Makembe is a partner at Beekeeper Group, where he heads up the company’s Interactive Division