Integrating Third-Party & Digital Advocacy as Critical Means of Influence in Uncertain Times

By Jared Parks, Vice President, and Todd Van Etten, Chief Digital Officer

  • At the same time critical legislative, regulatory and spending decisions are swiftly being made, COVID-19 has completely upended traditional advocacy.
  • Your organization may not be talking as much to policymakers and decisionmakers, but they are listening.  Question is: too whom and how?
  • Integrating third-party and digital advocacy always serves as an effective communications strategy, but in today’s environment, it is paramount.
  • Learn more below …

In these extraordinary times, policymakers are making enormous legislative and regulatory decisions at breakneck speeds—decisions of great consequence to almost all industries and individual businesses of nearly every shape and size. In standard times, our democracy affords stakeholders ample opportunity to engage and educate policymakers and staff on the impacts of their decisions, whether it be through individual constituent meetings or shoe-leather lobbying. But ironically, with big decisions being made faster than ever, Congress, federal executive agencies state capitals are closed to most. Senior government officials and staff are working from home, lawmakers largely are staying back home, and most of their constituents and stakeholders are themselves under stay-at-home orders. So how best to engage policymakers in this new environment?

More than ever, a key element in a successful advocacy strategy is to partner with influential third-party organizations and respected key opinion leaders to advance aligned positions and policy objectives. As most of these organizations and individuals, have large grassroots memberships or public followings, along with significant digital platforms and media footprints, their ability to effectively engage on key issues and impact public policy debates has taken on even more importance.

Even in “normal” times, the ability to identify, educate, and mobilize external advocacy partners serves as a powerful tool in any public policy debate. Partnering with credible, like-minded third-party groups and opinion leaders can lend critical policy expertise, outside validation, and support to an organization’s advocacy objectives, amplify overall messaging and help influence specific audiences. A deep bench of influential third-party organizations—ranging from advocacy groups, think tanks, and industry associations—as well as known subject matter experts and key opinion leaders can serve as highly effective echo chambers around shared policy positions and goals, as well as providing the ability to counter any opposition efforts.

At The Herald Group (THG), we have a team of experts devoted to developing and nurturing strong relationships with third-party groups, academics, and political/influencers. This allows us a unique understanding of their positions on key issues and insights on their advocacy capabilities (grassroots mobilization, earned and social media, research, etc.), and make strategic recommendations to our clients when there may be a natural alignment. We can then work on behalf of our clients to collaborate on programs to reach targeted audiences and extend their advocacy efforts well beyond their normal reach.

But our work doesn’t stop there. As favorable media, content, calls to action or research are developed, we then help to ensure it is seen and consumed by the right people at the right time. That’s where the integration of THG’s Alliance Development and Digital teams come into play. Together we work with you to identify the ideal audience and messenger for each particular message—whether it consists of policymakers and senior staff, the media or targeted voters—then leverage our deep data expertise and technologies to target and deliver content and calls to actions to them to achieve desired, measurable outcomes.

The current crisis has further elevated the need for these types of integrated third-party and digital advocacy campaigns.  During some of the most heated public policy debates over the last several years, THG has been at the forefront of embedding amplification and mobilization campaigns to engage key audiences both remotely and in targeted locations.  And in today’s COVID-19 environment, our expertise and capabilities are being further leveraged as advocacy and the need for engaging remotely continues to evolve. 

If you’d like to hear more about THG’s Alliance Development or Digital team capabilities, please contact Jared Parks (Vice President for Alliance Development) or Todd Van Etten (Chief Digital Officer)