Lend Your Voice to Change Public Policy

Statehouse

This week, more than 100 South Carolinians who are passionate about women’s health issues convened at the SC State House for Tell Them’s annual Bee Day, a grassroots lobby day event.

Bee Day enables Tell Them’s statewide network of advocates to come together to discuss issues, share resources and meet with their state Representatives and Senators to ask them to provide leadership and support on a wide variety of issues.

This year, Tell Them’s key messages focused on the issues of reforming the state’s 27 year-old sex education laws, protecting birth control and in vitro fertilization from legislation that could potentially make them illegal; cervical cancer prevention through expanding the availability of HPV vaccinations; and prevention of domestic violence.

Tell Them is just one of dozens of organizations that hold lobby day events each year at the South Carolina State House. What kind of impact do these events really have on public policy decisions?

A cynic might say that they don’t have any effect at all – that legislators make decisions based on their personal beliefs, pressure from their political party or influence from paid lobbyists. However, grassroots advocacy remains a key tool in the toolbox of public relations strategies. Why?

Effective two-way communications models state that information flows both ways – that both parties have an opportunity to receive information, adjust and distribute information back to one another. This concept is truly at the heart of grassroots advocacy. Constituents meet with their legislators to share their perspectives on issues. Legislators listen, share their own perspectives and discuss possible outcomes. Hopefully, both parties leave the meeting feeling that their voice has been heard and that mutual understanding of one another’s opinions has been achieved. From there, it’s up to the legislator to determine if they will vote based on the desires of those who put them into office, or on the basis of their own opinions and the “party line.”

Consider that in any given legislative session, legislators could have hundreds of bills cross their desks. While they have dedicated staff members who help navigate them through the process, surely they don’t have the time to read every word of every bill. Education and advocacy could make the difference in a legislator understanding the intent of a bill or even becoming the person to champion and shepherd it through the legislative process.

(Just in case you need a refresher on the process: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFroMQlKiag)

The next time that an organization you follow asks you to take action by calling, writing or visiting with an elected official, keep in mind that these opportunities might enable a significant increase in the official’s understanding of issues of importance to the communities he or she serves. The voice that changes their opinion – and that helps legislation get passed – just might be yours.

a lesson in simplicity

A few bare-shouldered days, the first dapples of pollen along my windshield’s edge, the ammonia-laced scent of Windex… these are spring’s true signifiers.

The urge to spring clean is perhaps the most instantaneous, the most bewildering effect of spring’s first blush. Through the winter, I make peace with the disorder of my desk and closets. Stray papers and forgotten tchotchkes go unnoticed, or perhaps excused as yet another layer of insulation against the cold. It’s only when the season turns and the evening light lingers that the charming disorder is illuminated for what it really is—a mess in dire need of fixing.

In my own march toward madness, clothes are boxed for donation, surfaces scrubbed, shelves dismantled, dusted, rearranged. And so it happened that I found myself deep in the dust of college keepsakes last night.

Between empty folders, old photographs and half-filled composition books, there it was: one thick, two-inch binder containing every upper-level English lit paper I had ever written. Including one particular critical theory essay with the following comment scrawled toward the bottom:

There’s a kind of reliance here on your own good writing that both saves your essay and prevents you from examining the question more tellingly.

Put another way, “If your sentences weren’t quite so prettily strung together, you’d be in a heap of shit.”

I’ve always been particularly adept at manipulating language. I love the way crepuscular crinkles and ameliorate stretches like taffy. I love the crests and troughs of English, the fussiness of its rules, and the ability of well-placed punctuation to lend starch to a sentence. I know how to use these rhythms to my advantage. What I like to forget is that all those lovely syllables should add to a meaningful thesis.

As we work our way through no small number of annual report assignments, this reminder to examine the challenge at hand couldn’t come at a better time. It would be easy enough to write a few “Look at all we accomplished!” pages on behalf of our clients. But to accurately put the year in review, to tell a story unencumbered by needless superlatives and bloated prose, takes a little more effort. It takes an unsentimental eye for what’s worth keeping and what doesn’t need to be there. And, maybe, just a little seasonal zeal.

As for all those old essays, professors’ comments scribbled down margins and in between paragraphs, I think those I may just keep.

How to Build a Killer Social Media Marketing Campaign [SLIDESHARE]

Don’t be a dinosaur! If you’re looking for ways to win the changing social media game, crawl out of the Facebook stone ages with Keely Saye. In this presentation delivered to the Columbia, South Carolina chapter of the American Marketing Association, Keely walks through tips and tricks to help you build a multi-faceted social media presence that will delight your existing customer base and attract new followers to your brand.

Get Ready to Pay to Play in Social Media Marketing

Businesses have taken a huge hit on reach and engagement numbers since Facebook introduced it’s ever-changing Edgerank algorithm. For years, companies have spent time, money and talent to build their pool of Facebook fans only for the algorithm to choose what content it will now show them. Well, get ready for Twitter to do the same.

Related story: Twitter’s Controversial Algorithm Changes and What It Means for Your Business 

The argument against the algorithm change is prolific among the business community. It’s a pay to play game now for marketers in the social media space. But is that a bad thing? As a consumer, I’ve already tuned out advertisements on television with Netflix and DVR. I rarely hear radio commercials because I listen to music on my phone. And God bless whoever invented Caller-ID so I don’t ever have to talk to a telemarketer ever, ever again.

Technology will continue to feed the needs of consumers who are moving toward a more personalized marketing experience. Businesses and marketers are just going to have to figure out how to reach them. It’s more difficult than ever. And yes, that is going to cost money.

social media marketing

The Power of No

Guinness, the iconic brand of Irish stout launched a blonde lager brewed in America. The brand’s roots date from 1759, the tone of its witty advertising initiated in 1794 and the “Guinness is good for you” tag line is over 80 years old.

I believe one of the most powerful brands in the world has just sacrificed itself at the altar of more. Sadly, we see it all the time. No brand wants to inhibit growth; therefore, no company wants to exclude a potential customer.

To Guinness, finding any way to increase sales in the US trumped its heritage, product niche and brand equity.

We believe that sometimes, companies need to say no. That means knowing:
a) What you stand for
b) The value of your brand
c) What you are unwilling to do

Guinness will likely have some success with its US blonde lager. In the short term, it may even prove a good move. Long term, my bet is that they’ll regret it. Riggs Partners believes in longevity, being true to yourself, and being true to your customer. If you’re struggling with short-term gain versus long-term value, give us a call.