Budget season is upon us, and GG’s Erin Gaffney offers a comprehensive guide to advocacy communications in this critical time.
With both the New York City and New York State budgets set to be finalized in the next few months, it’s important to identify your organization’s role in advocating for key policy priorities. This can be a tricky time to navigate, with countless organizations and companies across all sectors competing to be heard above the noise.
To start, it is critical to determine which budget initiatives are most important for your organization to advocate for – and what you’re advocating against. Keeping in mind that these priorities should always align with your organizational mission, existing programs, and strategic initiatives, take the time to think through: using the available resources, will we be able to succeed? How is this policy currently viewed by the public, lawmakers, elected officials, and our peers and partners? What are the potential positive outcomes of this for your organization? What are the potential negative outcomes of this for your organization?
Once you’ve identified your key priorities, below are four advocacy communications tactics you can use to successfully stand out from the crowd.
Write and distribute a statement clearly outlining your organization’s priorities for the City and State budgets. To emphasize the importance of the issue at hand, briefly explain where things currently stand and what needs to be done to make a difference. Make sure to tie everything back to your organization’s mission and initiatives so it’s clear why you’re supporting or opposing the budget element.
This statement should be published on your website and shared with relevant audiences, including key stakeholders and partner organizations.
Engage with local officials, peers, and other thought leaders through your organization’s social media accounts. Use platforms like Twitter to agree with and support those who share your stance, and to create thoughtful discourse with those whose opinions vary from yours.
Share news articles from reputable sources on your accounts and add additional commentary either expressing your support of the position or offering ways to change or strengthen the position expressed in the article.
Reshare direct quotes or portions of your drafted statement, including a direct link back to your website post.
The most effective way to promote your key priorities for both the City and State budgets is through an opinion article, or op-ed. Op-eds allow you to control the narrative – in this case around a specific budget priority – that directly reflects the opinion of the author and organizations. To successfully place an op-ed, timing is extremely important. If you have the op-ed drafted and ready to pitch in tandem with the legislative period or discussions and testimony around the budget, a news outlet is more likely to publish it.
Secondly, if you or your organization’s spokespeople are interested in speaking with local media outlets on the budget and your priorities, you can pitch the above-mentioned statement to reporters to show them a clear breakdown of your stance and what you could add to their potential coverage of the budget. It can be challenging to break through in a crowded media space, but being proactive and acting quickly can help you stand out.
Before the budget has been finalized, prepare for all possible outcomes. This includes being ready for both the best- and worst-case scenarios, and thinking through what your next steps will be. In the instance that your most important budget ask is not included, how will your organization respond and continue to push the City or State government to make a much-needed change? Just as you have a statement before the budget, take the time to draft a post-budget statement to post on your website and social media channels, as well to share with media.
Navigating the City and/or State budget from a communications standpoint can be complicated, and your approach should be guided by your organization’s advocacy goals. Regardless, successful advocacy communications requires preparation, consistency, and clarity.