Nearly all advocacy software platforms encourage peer-to-peer advocacy and social media sharing with the goal of creating a domino effect of people taking action to support your cause or campaign.
The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the importance of digital advocacy, digital advocacy software, and the deployment of organic crowdsourcing techniques. Now, the advocacy community is handicapped in its ability to use traditional offline techniques, and the volume and effectiveness of digital are undergoing a stress test.
Platforms are reporting record numbers of actions and industries that are severely impacted by COVID-19 like restaurants, hotels, airlines, casinos, and retailers are stepping up advocacy and innovating under both dynamic and dire circumstances.
Over the past couple of weeks, it’s likely that you’ve received an action alert or were tagged in a Facebook post, Instagram story, or the like from a friend or relative in an affected industry. These industries are localizing the issue into your corner store, local bar, and neighborhood clerk or waiter rather than nebulous 800-page pieces of legislation that could cause dramatic consequences on U.S. society and the economy.
The present advocacy techniques that are being used in an expedited and condensed format will provide us with important case studies and peer-learning opportunities for many months, and even years to come. The tactical and strategic change is really being bolstered and supported by advocacy technology. There are three major notable technology trends and observations that are at the forefront of the current conditions and state of advocacy:
Platforms are helping groups move more traditional efforts online.
Across the board grassroots software platforms and legislative tracking tools have quickly adapted to COVID-19 advocacy campaigning. Nearly all the platforms have offered integrated solutions to quickly monitor and mobilize advocacy digitally. Traditionally, legislative updates are now augmented and complemented with easy to read summaries, curated news articles and relevant information to affected trades and industries. Advocacy professionals can rely heavily on their tools to provide quick updates that can be used in plug-and-play communications methods to inform and activate membership, employees, and influencers. Many of the platforms have developed tools in a matter of days or weeks for what would have previously taken months or years.
Video conferencing is helping groups dig into new legislation and regulation.
The information that’s provided by our software providers allows advocacy professionals to become more valuable resources for our organizations and to utilize tools like Zoom and GoToWebinar to explain the process and next steps of where policies are heading. This enables advocacy professionals to host conference calls and webinars to take on the role of civics teacher, constituent services representative and pace car driver for the subsequent campaigns.
Advocacy tech is helping groups empower local advocates.
Governments at the local, state and federal levels are moving quickly to mitigate the spread of the virus and lessen its fallout. By providing a resource hub for your advocacy constituency and detailed information, you can create templated campaigns that can be deployed simultaneously and repetitively in different jurisdictions.
You can also rely on your advocates to take it upon themselves to crowdsource stock content to tailor it to their locality. As the central advocacy organization, you can also support or highlight organic campaigns that are created by your advocates through your organization’s communications channels. Many affected industries are utilizing GoFundMe pages to raise money for employees, businesses, and non-profits that are taking a financial hit from the various shutdowns and stay-at-home orders.
Advocacy professionals wouldn’t be able to lead all the advocacy activities that are taking place in the aftermath of the pandemic were it not for the ability to leverage technology capabilities and new resources that have been created and tested in record time.
Joshua Habursky is the Head of Federal Affairs at the Premium Cigar Association and Adjunct Professor at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management.
Mike Fulton directs the Washington, D.C., office of Asher Agency and teaches public affairs in the West Virginia University Reed College of Media’s Integrated Marketing Communications program.