The United States will elect a new president in 2016, as you've probably heard by now. For issue organizations, presidential election years can be dead time...or a unique opportunity to reach a national audience.
Here's the challenge: our political system and the reporters who cover it are so focused on the presidential campaigns that other issues sink into the background. Relatively little legislation will move through Congress this year, and many policy initiatives will stall. Meanwhile, breaking into the news becomes more challenging than usual.
For organizations that are prepared (and a little lucky), the mass media attention around the presidential race presents a chance to break through in a big way. If your issues become important politically this year -- nationally, locally or with a key piece of the electorate -- you may be able to make real progress toward your policy goals.
In the process, the election will almost certainly help you reach new audiences and grow your supporter list. You may even alter the collective perception of your cause and start the ball rolling on new initiatives.
How do you do that? We’ve written a white paper with Epolitics that outlines the 6 things you should be doing this election season.
1. Create a Plan
Political rapid response happens in minutes in a digital world, but you can still plan for it. Whatever your advocacy goals, think in advance about how they might come up in the context of the presidential race. What messages would you want to promote? How could your organization shape the public discussion?
2. Engage Key Stakeholders
As you think through how you will engage the media and your constituents during a congested political cycle, it helps to align your internal teams around five core areas, which we outline in the white paper. Doing so will make your work more timely and streamlined and the outcome more effective.
3. Develop a Content Strategy
Content rules, at least when you're trying to change hearts and minds online. Without the right words, pictures and stories, you can't make your case effectively. You also can't arm your supporters with the tools they need to help you spread the word.
4. Engage Constituents
Your donors, social media followers, website visitors and email subscribers are all likely constituents to amplify your message and to help elevate your issue(s) within an election. To enable them to be the messengers, create a few engagement campaigns to help them learn more about how your organization’s issue(s) are relevant in this election year.
Elections can take up a lot of oxygen in the room. Though they tend to consume the media and occupy supporters’ time and imaginations, you shouldn’t let this keep you from raising money. You’ll need to adapt your strategy to reflect the realities of a campaign-year fundraising environment
Once your election-year advocacy campaigns are rolling, you'll want to start measuring progress immediately. If you're not hitting your goals, you may need to step back and reevaluate. Did you set the right goals, and are they realistic?
Learn about this and more in our white paper.