A committed advocate can make an amazing difference on an issue, with the right tools and approach. During the 2013 Colorado floods, the mountain town of Lyons was cut in half by raging waters. Few people died. Why? One committed advocate had lobbied for a warning siren.
A public education campaign taught residents to look for smoke and evacuate away from the nearby forest. If they saw no smoke, assume a flood and move to higher ground.
More recently, a study found a high proportion of residents in a Wisconsin community had living wills. Unlike most families, who avoid end-of-life discussions, the vast majority had discussed their wishes and put them on paper. Why?
A local hospital ethicist made living wills a personal mission after seeing the anguish of many families. As a bonus, healthcare costs have declined because most people — when asked — said they did not want extraordinary measures used to lengthen their life. Individual rights were preserved and society benefitted.
What makes a difference in cause-related advocacy?
1. Crisp Messaging – Advocates must explain the issue clearly and simply.
2. Recruiting allies – To gain traction, the advocate must convince others of the rightness of the cause and the solution.
3. Persistence. Convincing the public to learn something and take action takes months, if not years – time to build those alliances and persuade public officials.
These two advocates worked in their fields, but big changes can occur through volunteers as well. Mothers Against Drunk Drivers was founded by a mom whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver. It took only seven years — a record — to move from an issue to legislation setting mandatory maximum blood alcohol levels.
Gonder Public Relations can help you develop crisp messaging and communications strategy to build allies and promote behavior change. The first call is free: 303-321-3465.