Reach your audience with these six steps

By Terri Lackey

Erin Fitzgerald (photo by George Conklin)

Reaching an audience with your organization’s advocacy message requires six communications steps, said two Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) communications professionals.

Erin Fitzgerald, digital director at SPLC in Montgomery, Alabama, and Seth Levi, director of marketing, led the workshop “Integrated Communication for Advocacy” at the Religion Communicators Council conference in Atlanta, April 5-7. The SPLC is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of the society.

“The first step for communicating your advocacy message is to define your goal,” said Fitzgerald. “What are you trying to accomplish? What would you define as a successful result of your communications campaign?”

The second step is to identify the target audience, she said. “Who is the target? Maybe you have multiple audiences. What do you want them to do?” Each target audience will react to different messages, Fitzgerald said.

Seth Levi (photo by George Conklin)

Step three of communicating your advocacy message is to identify the platforms on which to reach your target audiences. “You can use traditional media, op-eds, press releases, pitching to newspapers, paid media like newspaper, radio, TV, social media,” said Levi. “You can use digital media, like email blasts and action alerts.”

Levi said SPLC does not often ask people to take direct action, like calling a member of Congress or writing letters. “We don’t want to dilute our important asks so we’re sparing with that,” he said.

Direct mail and phone calls are other ways to reach your audience, depending on your messages, he said.

Step four includes crafting your message and identifying your best messengers, Fitzgerald said. “Sometimes your best messenger is not always your organization,” she said. Often a person working at the grassroots level might be a better spokesperson. “Maybe somebody else can tell your story better than you can.”

She suggests creating talking points to ensure consistency of message and asking yourself tough questions before putting out the message, questions that might be asked by the audience.

Step five includes creating your materials. “Get input from your colleagues and think outside the box,” Fitzgerald said.

The final step is to implement your plan, she said. “At this point, you have already defined your goal, identified your targets and how to reach them, created your messages, identified the best messengers and produced your material,” she said. “The hard work is done.”

Finally, she said, create a calendar so “you can hit people with messages multiple times.”

 
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