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Innovate: Digital Advocacy

June 20, 2018

Digital Marketing, Nonprofits & Associations

“What I’ve seen in the nonprofit world is that government relations and communications teams don’t always work well together,” says Joe LaMountain, Reingold Vice President. “They speak different languages. They have different objectives. They’re often in different departments, and they’re frequently in different cities.”

LaMountain would know this as well as anyone. He spent the first half of his career in government relations — creating grass-roots advocacy programs, collecting petition signatures, and recruiting advocates for the American Diabetes Association. He’s then spent the second half in marketing and communications. 

This experience in both worlds has been eye-opening, providing him with a unique perspective on what he sees as a troublesome gap for cause-focused organizations.

 

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Reingold VP, Erin Damour, discusses the evolution of data with event attendees

And on a sunny Friday, in a rooftop conference room in Washington’s new Wharf, Reingold took a step toward addressing that gap. LaMountain and Erin Damour, Reingold’s vice president of digital marketing, hosted a luncheon for about 100 professionals to share innovative digital strategies and insights for enhancing their advocacy work.

“The digital landscape is ever-evolving,” says Katherine Beaulier, a senior director at Reingold who helped organize the presentation. “So we’re able to do things on the advocacy front now that we weren’t able to do 10, five, even three years ago — really targeted and focused outreach to stakeholders. We’re able to activate people on the ground and have them communicate directly to their legislators — which has had a huge impact.”

“My hope is that they walked away thinking, ‘Wow! There’s a bunch of cool innovative ideas to help advance our policy agenda that I never even thought of.’”

The presentation examined the current digital marketing landscape — including 2018 trends such as expanded influencer marketing, the growing power of video content, and a pay-to-play social media presence — and then centered on five core tactics:

  • Reaching policymakers and staff online
  • Raising awareness and enhancing brands
  • Persuading constituents to engage with elected officials
  • Finding and recruiting supporters in key states and congressional districts
  • Enhancing the effectiveness of email outreach

“I think what I’m most excited about, within digital, is the rapid evolution of data — and the amount of data available out there today,” Damour says. “As marketers, we can quickly test media formats, channels, audiences, and various tactics, getting insights very quickly that help continue to drive how we shape those strategies over time.”

 

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Joe LaMountain, Reingold VP, talks with Susannah Rosenblatt after the presentation

Susannah Rosenblatt, a communications consultant, arrived hoping to learn more about those strategies and trends. “It can’t be denied that digital is more relevant than ever to reaching audiences — and reaching the right audiences,” she says. “So it was important for me to hear a little bit about expert thinking on … digital targeting [and] digital advocacy, because that’s an important tool in any communicator’s toolbox.”

Other tools include tactics like creating effective content, personalizing mass emails, and geofencing — the ability to draw a perimeter around a specific location, such as a capitol building, and serve content to everyone inside.

Clare Mountfort of the design consulting firm Six Half Dozen, saw value in just getting government relations and communications professionals in the same room. “So that all of us are not sending separate messages to the same people,” she says. “We want to not duplicate but fortify our messages.” 

She thinks some audiences have been getting lost in the current landscape. “But this,” she says, “gave us some clarity in using those campaigns and being very, very targeted.”

Molly Flores, a recent college graduate, signed up hoping to learn tips and tricks that she could bring back to her employer, LINK Strategic Partners. “When you’re in college, taking these courses, there’s not that many opportunities for seminars like this, where companies speak to you directly,” Flores says. “And I think it’s huge, because these things, they’re not in a textbook yet.”

Want to know more? Learn how Reingold can help you enhance your issue advocacy campaign. Contact Joe LaMountain at jlamountain@reingold.com or 571.814.3372 (direct).

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