What Toronto Politicians Can Teach Us About Issues Management

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When it comes to getting your message heard, humility is no virtue.

I’ve noticed that many membership organizations put a lot of hard work into their advocacy efforts but often their efforts are barely noticed by their stakeholders.

If you’re hiding your light under a bushel you’re sabotaging the impact of your efforts.

Instead take a proactive approach to get your message in front of your members and the decision-makers you want to influence. This demonstrates leadership and can provide unique platforms to deliver your advocacy message. Often untapped resources are media stories. An organization can cleverly tap into a somewhat related news event to share information related to its advocacy message – reaching an often unattainable, broader audience.

The late Rob Ford was a great example of utilizing this technique to communicate his messaging. No matter what question he was asked by the media, he repeated his key messaging. For example: “Mr. Ford, do you smoke crack cocaine?” His response, “My record stands for itself. I saved the tax payers of this city one billion dollars”.

This is the blunt instrument approach but you can use a more eloquent segue. Seek a news story that has garnered broad attention and use it as a spring board to expand your advocacy reach through press releases, letters to the editor, social media, etc.

Consider this example:

In February 2014, pundits everywhere were talking about Toronto mayoral candidate John Tory’s controversial statement that women should learn to play golf to forward their careers. This would have been a prime opportunity for golf associations to share advocacy messaging such as:

“We read with keen interest the article that reported on John Tory’s statement about the importance of women playing golf. One of the key objectives of the ABC Women’s Golf Association is to attract sustainable funding that will enable young female athletes to have access to a career as golf professionals. We are dedicated to working with the decision makers within government, the sport community and the private sector to make this vision a reality for women across Canada.”

Ironically, as I scoured the news and internet the week the story broke, I did not see any such responses – the opportunity to reach the masses and influence potential stakeholders was lost. But I did read “I saved the tax payers of the city one billion dollars”.

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1 Comment

Filed under Association Management, High Performance Organization, Issues Management

One response to “What Toronto Politicians Can Teach Us About Issues Management

  1. I love this quote: “When it comes to getting your message heard, humility is no virtue.” It speaks to me personally because I’ve always felt that value and quality alone will drive the message, and – consequently – drive interest to our doors.

    I’ve been wrong about this.

    Popular TV talent shows are a good example of how uniqueness and talent alone are not enough. Without exposure, without showing off, most of these people wouldn’t be known beyond their own neighborhoods.

    “When it comes to getting your message heard, humility is no virtue.” This is a hard – but so very valuable – lesson. When one’s nature is inclined toward humility, boasting is no easy task.

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