Provided by Disciples Justice Ministries
The Power of Advocacy
What is Advocacy?
Effective advocacy provides an opportunity to live out our faith and join with the voices of prophets and Jesus to proclaim love for the marginalized. It offers pathways to partner with the poor, seek to transform racist structures, and endeavor to influence hearts and minds by communicating faith values to policy makers and people in power. It provides chances to connect our understanding of scripture with the shaping of society. Advocacy includes activities like public education, relationship-building with policy makers, civic engagement, voter registration, and media outreach. Advocacy can lead to systemic, lasting, positive changes that help all people thrive in their communities. It is critical that we build bipartisan support by working with policy makers from both parties.
Who You Are. Why You Care. What You Want.
Your story as one who is directly impacted by policies, who knows and loves affected communities, and who is determined to share stories of your relationships is your most important qualification as an advocate. Developing relationships with policy makers, and your commitment to educating them, are necessary to impacting policy changes. It is important that policy makers understand that their constituents care deeply about, and appreciate the contributions of, the persons impacted by the policies you will discuss.
Engaging Elected Leaders
It is more important than ever to meet with your local, state, and national policy makers to educate them about the vital role affected communities play in your life and in your town and region. Because change takes time, engaging with policy makers should be viewed as part of a continuing process of sharing information, building relationships, and having perspectives of impacted communities genuinely considered when decisions are made that will directly affect their lives.
There are positive proposals that local elected officials can adopt to affirm the importance of the concerns and communities you hold dear. City, municipal, and other local councils and commissions need to hear your values and views. Urge your local leaders to adopt resolutions that communicate your values and care for communities who may have experienced injustice in your community. Raising your voice for the disenfranchised is especially important because Individuals who oppose your views may make their voices heard loudly and frequently to policy makers. Pushing back publicly against injustice is a significant way of demonstrating your commitment to anti-racism.
The first is full length at 51 minutes. The second is abridged to 24 minutes.
How to prepare for virtual advocacy meetings
Media and outreach ideas, resources
When drafting an opinion piece, research the outlet you are submitting to. Many have a word limit around 600, but please check the outlet’s website for guidance. Feel free to use the points in the draft op-ed below as you write your own opinion article, or write directly from the heart — what you have to say deserves to be heard!
Research what topics your media sources’ editors may especially be interested in promoting.
This year, editors are very focused on how COVID is impacting every-day life. Your op-ed or event does not need to focus on the pandemic, but keep this in mind when framing it.
When pitching your event, op-ed, or other project:
- Most editors prefer pitches over email or through a submission form on their website.
- Keep your pitch on-message and as short as possible. Reporters and editors are often on a deadline and receive many pitches each day.
- Open your pitch with an interesting first line, mention how it is relevant in the time of COVID, and mention how this is a new and innovative take on current news in the community that their readership will find interesting.
- See the draft pitch below for an example email.
To increase your chances of getting media coverage for an event — especially a virtual one — set up an exclusive interview with one outlet. Making your event exclusive to one reporter makes it more appealing to the journalist, as they will be the first ones to “break” the story.
When pitching an exclusive story, research the outlets and reporters in your area. Who are the top current event, political, or other related topic area reporters in your region? Have they written about your subject before? If so, how can you tie your event into their previous work? Answering these questions and using them to draft your pitch will increase the chances of your welcoming event being covered and featured as an exclusive in a larger outlet.