Deep Dive Breakout 1

Thursday, August 4, 2016

2:00pm – 3:00pm

Travis Gianchetta (Beekeeper Group), Amanda Phraner (Baxalta) and Tom Donnelly (Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy) 

Summit attendees anonymously submitted their biggest challenges and failures. Now we will post them on a giant wheel and spin to find out which topics will stump our team of industry experts. A lighthearted session to discuss the hard topics and potential solutions.

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

Learning Objectives:

  • How do you strategize the process of storytelling?
  • How do you maintain the message and keep the story consistent over time?
  • How much research is necessary? How to reach multiple audiences?
  • How to make sure that your story is right/relevant? Format: verbal, video, written


Failure 1: Speaker of the House John Boehner announced he was leaving Congress just before a government shutdown. The organization had planned to message around the government shut down so it completely wiped out the angle they were going after and the work they had done.

How do you deal with abrupt changes in the news cycle that change the days/weeks news landscape and make it hard for people to get their message out in the news.

Answer 1:

  • If it didn’t work this time, shelf the messages. There might be a better time later on to bring it back out.
  • Try to get the message out through your own social and media channels.
  • Vocalize to leadership ahead of time the risk of putting so much effort into building messaging around unstable/controllable events.

Failure 2: How do you get association members to engage on social media?

Answer 2:

  • Really know your members and whether social media is a good outlet for them to engage with political topics on social media or not. Find out how they want to engage.
  • Understand that it’s really hard to mix the policy conversation on personal social channels.
  • Find people who are comfortable on social and really help them become influencers.
  • Use it as an opportunity to survey your members and learn if people are on mobile, social media or how they choose to interact with the virtual social world.
  • Give the executives that you want participating on social guidelines and topic information on how to talk about the topic on their social channels appropriately.
  • Generally people feel more comfortable sharing information that has already been shared instead of sharing their own information.
  • Fly-In hill training should include education on how people should communicate about policy issues on their personal social channels.
  • Find fun things that encourage membership to want to take pictures and share. Selfie sticks, fun filters, etc.
  • Bottom line: Know your audience.
  • Match your attendee list to their social profiles. This way you will know only 30% of the people attending are on social media and you know who to target and educate on sharing on social.

Failure 3: It is a challenge to find time to educate employees, other departments and grassroots activist on policy issues. How do people find a good time to host a webinar etc.?

Answer 3:

  • Doodle is a great tool to figure out when people have time to commit to the webinar.
  • Often the biggest lift is preparing for the webinar not the webinar itself. So host 2-3 webinars during the week to accommodate everyone and rotate the time.
  • Record the webinar so everyone can watch it on their own time.
  • Have people in the room when you are doing the webinar so that the person conducting the webinar. It changes the nature of the webinar and gives the person doing the webinar feedback on the spot on how its going.
  • From the get-go really play up what is in it for people and what they will learn, so they attend.

Failure 4: Your organization spends a good amount of money developing a really robust tool to make sure everyone can access the resources and information they need but set aside barely to no money to promote the tool to your membership. What do you do?

Answer 4:

  • The best way to promote an app: Have the CEO at your annual conferences tell everyone to search for it on their phones and download it right on the spot.
  • Make sure all fly-in or conference information is on an app which will force everyone to download the app to get the information and resources they are looking for. No paper or anything will be printed so everyone has to download the app.

Failure 5: How do you overcome the challenge of finding ways to constantly communicate with people who take action on your issue?

Answer 5:

  • Set up an editorial calendar for your emails. Make sure your only doing “asks” every few emails.
  • Be up front and honest. Say: “We know you haven’t heard from us in a while” or say, “ You are only going to hear from us when it’s really important” This lets the audience know what to expect.
  • Make it part of your policy and strategy to create a follow-up plan. Don’t just follow up to follow-up, give information on a vote or how many people took action, etc.
  • Think like the recipient before you send an email rather than the sender. If you would be annoyed or wouldn’t read it don’t send it and come up with another plan.
  • Make sure you are coordinating with all the departments in the organization and the emails they are sending. There is a thing of too much email communication.
  • Create a video that addresses why you will be reaching out so frequently or not often.

Failure 6: What do you do when you take a new job, and realize they don’t have an advocacy system in place at all and have new leadership that isn’t bought into the idea.

Answer 6:

  • Start by going around to every department and talk to the VP to really understand how grassroots could help them and their work. This will give you an understanding about what is important to the organization and also help you build buy in and understanding of the importance of advocacy.
  • Try to get buy-in at lower leadership levels first and then work your way up to executive level and the board.
  • Explain why we need advocacy.  Then give a presentation to the head people on why everyone should jump right in and not sit on the sidelines.
  • Show what competitors and other organizations are doing and why it’s important we keep up with them.

Failure 7: How do you convince senior management to take on risks by communicating about policy issues both internal and externally.

Answer 7:

  • Ask who they admire in the space and show them what they do.
  • Prove to them the impact they would have if they step outside of their comfort zones.
  • Try out a “pilot” and do it on a small scale and test it out and show what you are trying to do and then go back and pitch the bigger idea.
  • Sometimes they don’t understand the position taken on an issue but once they understand it they are usually more willing to take action.
  • Show your leadership what a competitor is doing. It will motivate them to want to do similar if not more.
  • Tie it back to owning who you are. Staying silent on this issue isn’t who we are, we have a strong opinion and should share it.
  • Proving that the people that engage and take a stance more often than not succeed. If you want to be part of the conversation, you have to be at the table.

Failure 8: How does everyone effectively benchmark and share advocacy efforts to build for the case for more internal support.

Answer 8:

  • Find out what metrics people are looking for and matters to them and then start using those metrics in your favor to gain internal buy-in.
  • What do people track:
    • Number of messages to the hill
    • Number of social media messages to the hill
    • How many people signed a letter
  • Monitor the actual click-through rate to show people taking action.
  • Metrics you can benchmark is the most helpful. Especially if you can benchmark compared to other companies. Watch how the needle moves on the benchmark overtime. Show the movement rather than focusing on the number directly.