From Resistance to Resources: How to Gain Internal Support, Status and Money for Your Grassroots and PAC Programs: Part Two

The First Sale is to Yourself

Staff who are able to get more money and resources for their programs believe passionately in their mission. Remember, the first sale is always to yourself.

I was asked by a client to help coach her through a very important presentation to one of her organization’s highest governing bodies. We collaborated on her new five-year strategic grassroots development plan, and this group needed to approve the general plan direction. However, they had never heard a grassroots advocacy presentation before. Many didn’t even understand the goals and rationale for the advocacy department – not your most welcoming audience. She had to get their buy-in to the five-year plan.

I could tell immediately from our initial conversations that she was (and continues to be) very passionate about the results that their advocacy has already achieved and their grassroots potential. Plus, she was adamant about getting this presentation right. She was not satisfied with reading PowerPoint slides (I always felt that PowerPoint takes us from mediocre to mundane.) We worked on how to grab their attention, tell compelling stories, use attention-getting statistics, and answer their objections before they could even articulate them. She practiced over several weekends. The result? She was told by their COO that it was the “best presentation we’ve ever heard.” The plan was approved, and she also has hired more staff to support the new direction.

Employee an Internal Marketing Strategy

The operative word here is strategy. When I hear political involvement professionals talk about feeling like the organizational “stepchild,” it’s usually in the same breath that they have expounded on tired tactics to gain internal support. They aren’t thinking about their influence prospect’s point of view. It reminds me of people who want to know the “one way” to motivate the grassroots or the “one best way” to raise PAC funds. While intriguing questions, there is no blanket answer to those questions, and people who give you “the one way” are not strategic. Strategic people are inherently flexible; they are always adjusting their approach to the organizational and environmental frame. So, if you want to be strategic, think like a strategist, and plan like a strategist. That doesn’t include “magic bullet” approaches.

One of my clients is in the process of reinvigorating his PAC. He could simply announce the recruitment campaign, train his recruiters, and get started. However, he is aware of the problems with previous PAC efforts and the fact that his senior leaders aren’t U.S. citizens. He is taking their frame into consideration as he develops his internal marketing plan. He has developed a specific internal marketing plan in addition to an overall PAC campaign plan. His story isn’t complete, but thus far he has received the resources to continue with an aggressive PAC campaign, install new grassroots and PAC software, and get an audience with his CEO to confirm his support.

Attention to the Launch

Simply announcing your PAC campaign or grassroots initiatives via an email probably won’t result in energized stakeholders. Think of other major organizational initiatives. The lasting ones are announced in big ways with top leadership participation and endorsement.

One of our clients needed to reactivate his grassroots network. He had one main opportunity – a series of national franchisee meetings which contained his prime audience. He lobbied for and was given podium time at the meetings. Instead of reading a list of legislative issues as his presentation, we carefully crafted a humorous presentation that incorporated persuasive symbols and loss-framing techniques.

The result? More Key Contacts, Action Call response rates tripled, and his CEO “loved it.” May of the franchisees in attendance told him it was the “best presentation we’ve heard at this meeting.”

Stay tuned for part three…