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The Art of Advocacy How to Influence Your Elected Officials

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1 The Art of Advocacy How to Influence Your Elected Officials

2 Session Objectives Understand the difference between lobbying and advocacy Learn basic strategies for developing an advocacy plan, connecting with elected leaders and effectively communicating your needs Learn about best practices and dos and don’ts in advocacy Learn about the resources available and how to use them Review the session objectives with students.

3 Lobbying or Advocacy What is lobbying? Who lobbies? What is advocacy?
Who can advocate? When should we advocate? Lobbying and Advocacy have similarities but they are two distinct activities. Lobbying has a more narrow focus than Advocacy. Let’s explore the differences.

4 Lobbying Lobbying is the act of attempting to influence decisions made by officials in the government. A lobbyist is an “individual who is paid to communicate with federal public office holders in an attempt to influence government decisions.” (Lobbyists Registration Act) There are 3 categories of lobbyist, each with its own filing requirements: - consultant lobbyists; - in-house lobbyists (corporate); and - in-house lobbyists (organizations). Professional lobbyists provide their services to many different types of individuals and organized groups, including individuals in the private sector, corporations, professional and trade organizations, charitable organizations, state and local governments, and the governments of other countries.

5 Advocacy Advocacy is the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal. An advocate is someone who speaks on behalf of a cause or proposal. The advocate may be an individual or an organization. Advocacy involves identifying, embracing and promoting an issue or cause. Within a political context, advocacy is an effort to shape public perception or to affect change that may or may not require legislation. Advocacy is part of our political process to influence public-policy and resource allocation decisions. It may be motivated from moral, ethical or faith principles or simply to protect an asset of interest. Advocacy can include many activities that a person or organization undertakes, including media campaigns, public speaking, commissioning and publishing research or poll or the 'filing of friend of the court briefs'.

6 Advocacy Advocates use every opportunity to support their cause or issue. Advocacy is a process, not an event. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Advocates use every opportunity to support their cause or issue. Advocacy is a process, not an event. It’s a marathon, rather than a sprint.

7 Road Blocks to Advocacy
Lack of comfort with the advocacy process Don’t know where to start Don’t know where to get help Don’t feel you are “expert” enough to advocate Most people are somewhat intimidated by the idea of advocacy. They believe that you need to be an expert or professional to advocate. Maybe some of you here today feel that way. I hope during this session I can increase your comfort level with the advocacy process and help connect you to the resources available to support your advocacy efforts. Everyone here can be an effective advocate for EMS. Let’s get started by walking through the steps to building and implementing your advocacy strategy.

8 Build Your Advocacy Strategy
Identify the issue - what is your need, concern, or problem to be addressed? Is it a local, state or federal issue? Is it a legislative issue or an administrative one? Who can address the issue for you in the correct venue? In building your strategy, you may need to do some research. In fact, I recommend it. If you believe an issue needs to be addressed, make sure that you understand all sides of that issue. For example, if you believe that your city or state should increase its funding for EMS, you should be sure to learn about what funding levels have been over recent history, and what the rate of increase has been, what is the source of funding for EMS and what individuals or groups have been in favor or opposed to that funding.

9 Build Your Advocacy Strategy
Develop your request – make it clear and succinct, provide a clear rationale and support your request with evidence, statistics, and reports. Set goals – what is your desired outcome? What outcomes or alternatives would be acceptable? The more you know about your issue, the easier it will be to develop your strategy and present your request to your government leaders. You will also need to determine who you will need to influence to achieve your advocacy goal. Political decision-making usually involves more than one individual or group. Accurately identifying your advocacy “target audience” will save you time and effort. And, as you probably know, our political process usually involves some kind of compromises between opposing groups. In setting goals for your strategy, be sure to identify both what you WANT TO achieve as well as what you NEED to achieve. In politics, as in life itself, getting some of what you want is usually better than getting nothing.

10 Craft Your Message Clearly and specifically state your request – what do you want them to do (e.g. vote for a bill or change a regulation)? Provide a sound rationale – why do you want them to do it (e.g. what good or bad result will occur)? Explain the implications for constituents – who will be helped (e.g. patient care will be improved in the official’s district because X, Y or Z). If the request will cost money, explain the costs and how you expect your request to be funded. Let’s go a bit deeper and talk about the components of your request. Your request should be a one-page document that clearly states right at the beginning what you want. Next, it should provide a sound rationale, including any relevant data to support your request. If no data is readily available, consider creating data by sending out a questionnaire to EMS practitioners, other health care providers, community residents, or other groups. Use the results of the questionnaire in your request. It should also include how implementation of your request (or conversely, lack of implementation) will impact constituents. When you meet with your government leaders, have an anecdotal story ready to share to personalize your request. Remember to stay positive. Frame your request to focus on the benefits of its implementation to constituents. These days, there is no point to making a request without presenting the cost. Governments at all levels are struggling to balance budgets. Be forthright and honest about the cost of your request and how you expect it to be funded.

11 Polish Your Message Remember, make it: Clear Concise Compelling

12 Connect with Leaders Know who your government leaders are
At the local, state and federal levels Make them know who you are Get to know them on an ongoing basis Let them know how you can help them Show them that you are a resource of information Explain how they can help you Elected officials want to be responsive to their constituents Effective advocacy requires connecting and building relationships with elected government leaders and their staff, and those appointed to government agencies with jurisdiction over EMS. The first step in this process is know who these people are. At the federal level, you can easily find your House and Senate leaders, and government agency staff from NAEMT”s Capwiz online legislative service, which is open to everyone via the NAEMT web site. Next, help them know who you are through all means – s, call, and visits. The more you connect with them, the better chance that they will remember you. Then, demonstrate your ability to help them by serving as a good source of information about EMS in your community. Building relationships take time but pays back with dividends. Once you have a relationship, it is easier to make your request. <Insert example>

13 Options for Communicating Request
Written communications - s, Letters Oral communications - Calls, Meetings: In their local/district office In their State or Federal offices A combination of written and oral communications is most effective As I mentioned earlier, advocacy is a process. Once you have made you request, you will need to follow up on a regular basis to remind your government leaders of your request and ask how you may help. Use all means possible – s, phone calls, visits. Be sure that your follow up plan is timely. Don’t wait too long to follow up. Your government leaders and their staff receive many requests, and you will want to ensure that they keep your request on the “front burner. “ Creating a follow up schedule is a good tool to keep your advocacy effort on track. If you are working as part of a team, whether it be within your agency, or your state association, share the responsibility of follow up. Your effort will be more effective if your government leaders hear from several of their constituents.

14 Communicating Your Request
Determine the individuals or groups to whom you will you make your request. Coordinate your request. Determine who else will you notify who may be able to influence the outcome (e.g. staff). Determine when and how you will follow up – respectful persistence often carries the day. Develop timelines and assignment of responsibilities. For example, if you are going to request that your U.S. House Representative support passage of a pending bill, you may also want to pass that information along to congressional staff who are located in your representative’s district office, so they will be aware of your request. You also may consider sharing your request with staff in your U.S. Senators’ offices, as there may be a companion bill on your issue in the Senate. If your request is to state leaders, be sure your state EMS office is kept in the loop.

15 Build Coalitions Garner support from within your agency and other agencies in your vicinity. If your request is to state leaders, enlist the support of your state EMS association. Keep your team informed of your progress along the way. Look to develop relationships with organizations of common interest. Share information or join in more formal coalitions. Government leaders take the opinions of their constituents very seriously because these are the people who elect and will re-elect them. So, the more constituents you have supporting your cause, the stronger your advocacy effort will be. Look to your agency, other EMS agencies, and the larger health care community, particularly hospitals, for support. Other likely supporters include local and state chapters of the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, and other healthcare advocacy groups.

16 Benefits of Coalitions
Access to more resources – information, labor, perspective, expertise, etc. Avoid “reinventing the wheel” People with same interests are more likely to be effective by collaborating Coalitions help you to spread the work around and can give added depth to your level of expertise on the issues you are trying to address. Coalition partners may have already existing relationships with government leaders, other organizations, and the media to help you in your effort. Other groups or organizations may be trying to address the same issue as you are. It may be more efficient to build upon and expand on the work that another organization already has carried out. Coalitions can be very effective. Cite the example of the allocation of the D-block of broadband for public safety. All of public safety - police, fire, EMS, 911, etc., participated in the effort to pass that legislation.

17 Advocacy Tips Be confident. Tell your story and share your experiences with your elected leaders. Be knowledgeable of the issues. Be honest and use plain language; be polite. Speak from the heart, but don’t over-tell your story. Stay on message. Ensure that your group reflects the diversity of your EMS community and agencies.

18 Advocacy Tips What doesn’t work?
Contacts that look purely bought and paid for, i.e. professional rather than grassroots; A confrontational style that harasses or insults politicians; Members who are under-informed or are speaking to issues without conviction; Providing members with tools that make them look like wound-up robots. Patience..

19 Advocacy Tools Make the most of technology to:
research a particular position; monitor government positions; organize, mobilize, and communicate with members; promote a viewpoint, attract supporters and organize campaigns. For research on federal issues, the best place to go is NAEMT’s Capwiz site that is offered as a service to everyone in EMS. For state issues, many state associations advocate for EMS within their states and some even have lobbyists supporting their efforts. Visit their web sites as well as the web sites of your states’ EMS offices to get the latest information about issues in your state. Social media is one of the most powerful and cost-effective tools available to advocates today. Blogs, Facebook pages, Tweets, Linkedin, Google Plus and more are all cost-effective ways to share your message and increase constituents’ understanding of the issues that you are working on.

20 Capwiz Online Legislative Service
Online and accessible EMS-specific federal legislation Elected official background and contact information Election and candidate background and contact information Specific grassroots campaign alerts Media contacts The Capwiz Online Legislative Service provides grassroots advocates user-friendly information about federal legislation, elected officials, elections and candidates, media contacts, and the ability to easily engage in specific grassroots campaign alerts. NAEMT researches and posts specific EMS federal legislation for all to view. You can access Capwiz via the NAEMT web site under the Advocacy Section.

21 Capwiz Online Legislative Service
Capwiz offers you the opportunity to receive notifications when grassroots alert campaigns are posted, or daily/weekly updates on how your elected officials are voting. Capwiz also provides information on the Senate’s and House’s Schedule, Committee Hearings, Capitol Hill basics and the ability to “Tell-a-Friend.” You even can register to vote via Capwiz! Capwiz is high-powered software that provides effective and efficient ways to educate and inform the grassroots advocate through a user-friendly platform.

22 The Art of Advocacy – Best Practices
Muscle Theory of Advocacy Exercise your advocacy muscle so you have good and strong relationships But don’t overtax the muscle because too much communicating can be counterproductive Credibility is Key Always be truthful even if it seems it will diminish your position If there is opposition, acknowledge so, and respectfully explain why you are right and they are wrong Advocacy is most effective when it is authentic – when the message is conveyed by those with direct, personal experience. Advocacy campaigns are most effective when they start with a clear, consistent message that is broadly conveyed by constituents who are directly impacted by the issue. As someone who is practicing EMS in your community, you bring something to the advocacy equation that professional lobbyists cannot – that is a genuine and personal understanding of the issues and how they impact your community. No one can convey this message better than you.

23 Grassroots Advocacy Effective advocacy relies on local participation.
Grassroots communication of concerns has the greatest impact on local politicians. Broad-based communication will be more effective if it supports a central message. Personalized approaches to political leaders works best - real people explaining real concerns. .

24 Thank you. For more information, please contact NAEMT. www. naemt
Thank you! For more information, please contact NAEMT.

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