Deep Dive Breakout 2

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

2:00pm – 3:00pm

Steven Billet (Graduate School of Political Management), Brandy Stacks (Prudential Financial), Alex Habib (Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Companies) and Melissa Varga (Union of Concerned Scientists)

How do you demonstrate the real-world ROI for an advocacy program? Better yet, how do you tell that story to internal stakeholders? Our panelists will share their quantitative benchmarks and quality indicators that help them sell the success of their programs to internal audiences.

Have feedback on this session? We’d love to hear it! Submit it here.


Demonstrating how public policy investments benefit an organization has always been important and always attracted skepticism. Resources go in and a public policy outcome comes out the other side, but there’s often a black box in the middle – and for many years, organizations that did lobbying or other public policy influence weren’t interested in what happened in the middle. Suspicion carries over from a less regulated time, and any time there’s an association between money and public policy, people will be skeptical – and they have good reason to be.

Learning Objectives:

  • What are the benchmarks you rely on to know if you are succeeding or failing?
    • Start with a conversation on benchmarking – you don’t need to measure everything. But, you do need to define what success looks like for your team, and how you contribute to that success. Narrow down to determine what you want to focus on in a given time period.
    • A PAC might look to their number of contributors to know how quickly they could start a grassroots program – if they have 1,000 contributors to the PAC, they know the majority of those 1,000 people would participate very quickly in a campaign effort.
    • Metrics aren’t shiny objects! At the end of the day, you need to capture, reconcile, and then report on the numbers, and the reporting has to be clear, easily understood, and cited. Embrace the numbers whether they’re good, bad, or in the middle. They tell your story for you and can help build a narrative. One easy metric: how many customers or members do you serve every day?
    • Benchmarks should persist so you can show progress and success over time.
  • How do you package the story / Sell the success of your program?
    • Selling the success internally: draw people in using clever, creative marketing. Once they’re in, amplify the voices of your champions by sharing success stories. Make people part of the discussion by asking why your program matters internally and how it can help. Consider creating a shared experience to foster a sense of teamwork and coordination.
  • Who should you be sharing with?
    • Internally, always be sharing with your communications or marketing department (if separate from advocacy and public affairs). They can be your biggest champions and partners, because they know where and how, and can help you, to get your message in front of internal audiences.
    • Work with leadership/executives to identify – and get sign-off on – public policy goals. These can translate into clear objectives and benchmarks, even if the metric is “yes/no.”
    • You may be excited to share your data, especially if it’s really good! But, be strategic and be prepared to answer questions, including negative attention. A PAC might create an annual report that is shared with every employee AND publically on the company’s website, so they need to be strategic about what they show.
  • How do you show value to other departments?
    • Internal monthly newsletters can share projects and successes.
    • Academics have recently produced great research and studies that can help: Hill, Kelly, and Van Ness study; Chen, Parsley and Yang study.

For Further Discussion:

  • Finding opportunities for collaborations across your organization.
  • Puncturing the myth that there are no advocacy metrics.
  • Real metrics vs. fluff metrics.