In a recent post, we covered the importance of associations to the government and vice versa. The two have an interdependent relationship—associations support areas that the government may not have the ability/resources to cover, and the government is essential for creating legislation that helps associations and their members.
So how do you go about influencing legislation and making real change? One way is by utilizing the powerful stories and testimonials your organization has.
According to the Public Advocacy Council, “Professionals in advocacy and public affairs can use stories to humanize less exciting issues to improve the success of their lobbying or advocacy campaigns and boost their organization’s reputation.”
The Public Advocacy Council suggests that video is a great way to tell a story. Some issues are quite complex to those outside your industry, so creating an engaging prerecorded video can provide you with exposition and emotion that you know will hit the mark.
Further, The London School of Economics and Political Science lays out 5 steps to create an effective narrative to influence policy:
- Understand that you are telling a story. It may not seem like it, but your mission has a narrative.
- Decide what you need to include. Some details are necessary, some are not. Use only the information you need to get your point across and make sure that you add some tangible, attention-grabbing elements.
- Follow a plot. A story arc can help you drive home the issue at hand and why it needs to be solved.
- Use your people to show how important your issue is. Show why you are the heroes of your story and why your association is needed.
- Show that you are morally right – that your desired policy change is needed to better the lives of those you serve.
The Association of Fundraising Professionals recommends identifying members of your association who would be willing to provide testimony for government relations purposes so you know ahead of time where you can go for a compelling story.
Building a narrative for your organization is key to successfully influencing policy.
As The Public Advisory Council put it, “It is important for organizations to see beyond routine relationship building with policymakers and focus on sharing their story and trying to shape the narrative around their issue.”