Thinking about developing a communications campaign to announce a new initiative, or a twist on a current one? It’s far easier to make the announcement yourself, but it may not be the most effective way.
Stop and consider the most trusted sources that motivate action. These can range from influencers who believe in your point of view or product to current happy customers — whether they’re voters, members of your organization or loyal followers.
Back in 2007, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg put it this way: “A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.”
Brands have taken that to heart. A recent estimate puts corporate spending on influencer marketing for 2019 at between $4.1-$8.2 billion globally.
Influencer marketing efforts in advocacy are often less developed. To help kickstart your program, here are a few organizations and people you can turn to for trustworthy validation:
Bipartisan congressional caucuses
There are hundreds of already organized and active caucuses or congressional member organizations in the 116th Congress. To leverage their support for your legislation, hold an educational briefing to help you secure media coverage. From Manufacturing to Autism and Franchises to NASA, there might be a perfect one to suit your cause.
An administration or federal agency leader
If you’re representing a public health group, having the U.S. Surgeon General or Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issue a call to action or speak to your organization supporting your agenda, adds tremendous value. This would be true for any White House or federal agency official with the authority and name recognition (i.e., the Secretary of Transportation, Council for Environmental Quality executive, or NASA Director).
Like-minded or large membership organizations
The same would be true by partnering with leading trade groups like the National Association of Counties (NACO), U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, or American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). Having their in-person and online support offers you a well-known and viable group with thousands of members and followers to get behind your cause.
A few years ago, NACO hosted a Capitol Hill reception honoring my non-profit client that had waged a very successful drug prevention campaign in urban and rural counties. That event and its follow up led to a major expansion of the non-profit’s work nationwide.
Employers and trade associations
Those who provide jobs and generate tax revenue, or the trade associations they belong to, can offer a valuable perspective and key geographies for your outreach.
Patient advocate or happy customer
Some of the most emotional and passionate word-of-mouth support can be found in patients, family members, alumni of universities, employees, retirees, and satisfied customers.
Bloggers and Journalists: Industry analysts, blog authors/website moderators, columnists and journalists who cover your business or issue area speak with authority and confidence.
While it’s important to think globally about developing such trusted advocates, don’t forget to act locally. Often the most practical and effective support is achieved by combining a federal initiative with passionate local/state advocates who can speak truth to power on issues that matter to your clients.
Oscar Wilde captured it when he wrote, “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”
It’s time to increase our advocacy efforts by engaging our most trusted sources to start talking about our causes.
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.