Putting a “Face” on the Community

Who are the faces in your community or organization?

A few years ago, I attended a legislative committee meeting on behalf of my client. At the time, I was an advocate for cities in Florida. A very well respected member was presenting a bill he’d sponsored. It was the committee’s responsibility to either advance it to the next committee, or choose to “kill it”, thus bringing any hope of its passage to an end for the current session.

The context of the bill isn’t important. What is important is that during the dialogue between the bill sponsor and his colleagues he made the following statement, “We don’t represent cities, we represent the taxpayers.” I was stunned and dumbfounded when he said it. Did he actually believe this? The sad truth was he did, and so did some of his colleagues who were nodding in agreement.

That comment has stayed with me for years. Call it a “slap in the face” or a “wake up call”. And it’s one of the reasons I became so passionate about advocacy and chose to write this book.

So what does this story have to do with advocacy? As a person always looking for the “advocacy opportunity” in any situation, I knew there had to be one lurking within this statement. And there was! I like to call it putting a “face” on your community or organization. This is all about building a network of allies so when legislators are passing laws, they will see the faces of the people affected by their decisions. So if the people you are trying to influence harbor this same feeling, then it’s time to get to work and overcome this perception.

However, if you are thinking about undertaking this strategy, be aware it does take time and effort. You need to understand what’s involved, or consider hiring a firm that can help you. If you can’t afford to hire someone or only have a limited amount of time to build your team, you can still develop a network of advocates. Just start slow and build it consistently over time.

In my next few blogs, I’ll share strategies so you can get started today!

Your Partner in Advocacy…Kathy