Last week, Blue State Digital headed to Orlando for the Public Affairs Council’s Advocacy Conference. The conference brought together professionals from trade associations, traditional nonprofits, and corporations interested in learning best practices from advocacy professionals — including Blue State Digital’s Matt Compton, who spoke about “How to Build an Advocacy Story.”

If you weren’t able to attend, below are some observations and takeaways our team had from the conference.

Be prepared for crisis communication

Crisis communication was on the minds of participants across industries. Historically, crisis communication has been handled by an organization’s communications team. However, the speed of modern news has made it less easy to identify and centralize a crisis, ladder it up a phone tree, and get sign-off from an executive on a response. So what’s the modern equivalent of a phone tree? When issues arise and the subject matter expert resides outside of the C-suite, how can you structure your organization and workflows to get answers and internal approval quickly? Organizations need to look at how they are responding and delegating responsibility when both negative and positive events take place.

Advocacy in the age of distrust

The idea of a “shared news experience” is a thing of the past. The news landscape is not only more fragmented than ever, but the news cycles also turn over more quickly. Additionally, there is more information associated with any given news moment than in years past. Advocacy groups need to build programs that account for all the other noise inundating their members or constituents.

Storytelling across channels

We know we’re most effective when we reach people where they are. But reaching supporters isn’t enough — we need to make sure that, at every touchpoint, we’re reinforcing the organization’s narrative.
When faced with the prospect of activating on multiple new channels, one common question was: “how do I do this without a budget?” Organizations need to get back to basics and identify what their story is first — and then look to optimize their presence on their key channels.


Need some help building your advocacy story? Get in touch with us.