Companies are going through massive changes as they work to adjust to the new normal, modifying supply chains, adjusting their workforce, and maintaining service to customers whose needs are shifting in a stay-at-home world.
Now, advocacy is part of that equation, too. Organizations of all kinds used the Phone2Action platform to launch more than 900 campaigns last week. The result was that more than 1 million people took action, sending more than 2.3 million messages to members of Congress. Axios wrote about it.
Corporations are part of that boom. Changes in the policy environment at the state and federal level can dramatically impact a company’s ability to adapt—and those changes are coming fast. While the federal government is focused on a stimulus package and state and local governments are operating in crisis mode, smart organizations will start planning for what’s next and to help shape the new landscape.
The energy industry is a good example. From oil and gas companies to utilities, the industry serves almost everybody in America in one way or another, whether it’s heat for a home, electricity for a business or fuel for a car. It is no surprise that the industry will face major challenges as the Coronavirus crisis unfolds.
Oil and gas companies, which were struggling before the crisis hit, could see a bevy of state and federal changes, from shifts in state sales taxes to a temporary federal halt on production requirements. Utilities, which are struggling to cope with a boom in usage caused by social distancing, will want a say on issues from tax credits and federal stimulus to ensuring that utility workers and contractors are considered critical workforce.
While the industry has been focused on serving customers and caring for employees in the initial weeks of the crisis, savvy companies are pivoting to longer-term strategies that actively ensure they have a voice on policy. New developments are announced every day. This is no time to sit still.
The Power of Employees
In a world where face-to-face meetings are no longer possible, digital advocacy is increasingly important. Whether in state capitals or in Washington, traditional lobbying is no longer an option. Fly-ins, whether a CEO visit or an industry association event, have been cancelled. The ability to mobilize grassroots support and submit authentic stories to public officials could mean the difference between success and failure. Smart companies will invest in their capabilities to move their audiences to action.
For oil and gas companies—and many like them in other industries—employees will be vital. Many employees are worried about their future in a post-virus world and have engaging stories to tell. They represent an authentic voice that will resonate with lawmakers as they begin considering legislation. Companies can and should amplify that voice.
Customers can also play a meaningful role. The people dependent on your company’s services for their own livelihood, such as a small business that relies on a utility for its power needs, are in a solid position to inform lawmakers about the situation on the ground. Restaurants and healthcare companies are using restaurant owners and healthcare workers to advocate. Companies in other industries can do the same.
An Advocacy Boom
Interestingly, customers and employees appear extremely willing to participate. While much of America’s workforce is stuck at home, they are not idle. In fact, statistics show that grassroots advocacy is booming as people head online to share their views about the crisis.
Successful companies will help serve customers and employees who want to speak out. They will initiate text messaging campaigns connecting their audiences with lawmakers, taking advantage of the enhanced impact that a text program supplies (conversion often runs to double digits). They will collect stories from employees and customers and amplify them on social media. They will provide feedback to their audience on a digital “live map” that shows action being taken nationwide.
In short, companies that want to be effective in the post-pandemic policy landscape will embrace digital tools and move their people to action. There’s a great deal of work to be done in the weeks ahead—and a great deal of opportunity, too.
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