As any good advocacy professional knows, you can’t just send one email or post one message on social media and expect to drive results in your advocacy campaign. It requires a thoughtful, orchestrated, coordinated effort, timed perfectly as things unfold on the ground. Shatterproof—a nonprofit dedicated to fighting drug addiction and supporting families hurt by addiction—used such a strategy to secure a win for addiction prevention legislation in California. Read below to learn how you can use the same methods to achieve victory for your organization and your cause.
The Shatterproof Story
Last year, Shatterproof found an opportunity to fight for addiction prevention in the California state legislature. A bill was presented on the floor to prevent “doctor shopping” among drug users, requiring physicians to query a state database before prescribing certain medications. The goal of the bill was to prevent doctors from unknowingly prescribing a drug that a patient had already received or another drug that increased the risk of overdose.
Due to outdated technology, a lack of public awareness and heightened skepticism about overregulation, Shatterproof believed there was only a modest probability of the bill passing. To improve the odds, the organization implemented a three-pronged approach: they launched paid Facebook advertising campaigns to attract new advocates in key districts, focused on increasing advocate outreach to legislators in those districts, and held a live event in Sacramento to increase momentum behind their campaign.
All three of these tactics were supported by Shatterproof’s use of the Phone2Action platform. The platform allowed Shatterproof to easily identify and register new advocates both online and at their event, and then re-engage them when needed during the legislative process.
As a result of this strategy, they were able to engage advocates from every legislative district in California—90% of whom had never been part of a Shatterproof campaign before! In total, they sent 1,800 messages to legislators. The result? The bill passed with just one dissenting vote, and on September 27th, 2016, the Governor signed the measure into law.
“The numbers spoke for themselves,” said Shatterproof Chief Marketing Officer Shannon Hartley. “It went from less than 50-50 probability to near unanimous support in large part because the legislators heard that this was a really important issue from their constituents. In a very short period of time, we were able to engage a really broad number of advocates. That was just not possible with the other platforms we had used in the past.”
In June 2017, Shatterproof struck again, achieving another legislative victory in Texas.
How to apply the Shatterproof strategy to your cause
Shatterproof’s advocacy strategy involved recruiting new supporters, engaging them once the legislative session started, and hosting an event to mobilize their community en masse. No matter your cause, you can follow their example and leverage an integrated approach to achieve a legislative win.
Invest in paid social media advertising.
Social media accounts are the only places where you can identify, recruit, and engage advocates at the same time. People are talking about politics on social media now more than ever, so the door is wide open for you to connect with advocates, build one-on-one relationships with them, and provide easy and effective opportunities to influence policy in government.
Facebook and Twitter, specifically, have powerful tools that let you target your ads by city and county, so you make sure you’re investing in the right districts. Before the session, you can use this to build your advocate base.
Then, once the session begins, use those channels to target the same audience, only this time to engage them in action. At this point, you can also expand your efforts to “lookalike audiences”—people similar to your supporters who are also incredibly likely to take action on your campaign.
If you want to learn more about targeting, conversion pixels, and lookalike audiences, and how they can be used in advocacy, click here to download our latest white paper.
Focus on targeted connections with key legislators.
Knowing where your legislators stand with regard to your issue is critical in achieving the policy outcomes you desire. With this information in hand, you can focus your efforts toward influencing those who are undecided or the most influential. These key legislators could be swing voters, committee members, party leaders, or simply people with a large following and pull within the legislature.
Early in your advocacy campaign, focus on identifying and registering constituents of these key legislators as new advocates. By starting this process well in advance of the legislative session, you’ll be able to build a base of advocates within key districts to re-engage as the session draws closer.
Bring advocates together at a live event to build momentum and buzz.
While engaging advocates online gives you wide reach for your message and the ability to easily track performance metrics, engaging them offline has its own unique advantages. One of the biggest ways to use the power of offline engagement effectively is through live events, where people connected to your cause can speak out and share their personal stories. That’s exactly what Shatterproof did at their event in Sacramento.
Sharing personal stories on social media is something you can (and should) be doing, but live events, where people can interact face-to-face with those affected by your issue, are where personal stories shine. When people share their stories in person, the issue stops being just an issue—it becomes a person, someone whose voice they can hear, face they can see, and hand they can shake.
What’s more, the personal connections fostered in these moments are incredibly powerful for inspiring people to become involved with your cause. Shatterproof leveraged the Phone2Action platform during their Sacramento event to capture information of new supporters and was able to call on them to take action at critical moments in the campaign.
As you can see, Shatterproof is a great example of how effective an integrated advocacy strategy can be in achieving public policy change. The combination of the three tactics was a powerful, and ultimately successful way of educating the public, mobilizing them to take action and influencing the California legislature to recognize and act on its constituents’ direction.
To learn how to build your own successful grassroots advocacy campaign, check out this ebook on 8 Best Practices for Grassroots Advocacy.
Subscribe for Updates
Get the latest civic engagement trends, best practices, and news, right in your inbox.