Make Election-Year Advocacy Work for You

This article originally appeared on on 4/29.

Don’t let your association’s voice be lost in the confusion of the presidential race; follow these advocacy tips to stay above the fray. Plus: Social media contest best practices.

Every four years the presidential election turns Capitol Hill on its head, and, if this year’s primaries are any indicator, this cycle will be a frenzy.

While the infinite number of campaign commercials and endless news spots make pursuing your policy interests seem like a wasted effort, Michael Smith, CEO of GreenSmith Public Affairs and a member of the 2008 Obama for President press team, says this commonly held belief is hogwash.

In fact, this may be the best time for associations to push long-term agendas, Smith argues, and he has some suggestions on how to do so.

When it comes to policy change, it’s important for associations to gather a driving force of individuals behind them, and what better place to gather supporters than campaign events and fundraisers.

Smith also suggests associations reach out to the platform committees of the Democratic and Republican national committees, which will each be in the midst of writing its party’s stance on key issues of this election.

“You may be able to embed your issue or ‘ask’ in the platform document, which then sets precedent for when candidates take office,” says Smith.

While media coverage may seem overloaded, associations should not overlook the benefits of writing op-eds, which can be a great way to get national attention on a particular issue.

“Now is the time to write opinion editorials or LTEs [letters to the editor] for traditional print and broadcast media and for online policy sites,” says Smith. “Get your message out as campaign staff will find your stories and your ideas may shape speeches or policy statements.”

Whether your association adopts these tactics or takes a different approach, the crucial lesson is not to let election buzz get in the way of representing your members’ interests.

Fans of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner are in for a sweet Snapchat surprise with a candy-themed geotag filter, thanks to the National Confectioners Association.

“We all know it’s an overcrowded media market this time of year between WHCD festivities and the presidential election,” wrote Christopher Gindlesperger, NCA’s vice president of public affairs & communications, “so we at NCA have to get creative in order to effectively drive buzz and awareness around the issues that impact the manufacturers of chocolate, candy, gum, and mints.”

The filter will be available starting tonight and going through the weekend, according to an NCA announcement.