A Successful Advocacy Campaign Starts with a Story

Photo of Fern Senra-James

Fern Senra-James

Managing Director

At MCG, I am fortunate to lead the advocacy team, working with amazing groups and coalitions who champion meaningful causes. Helping these advocates affect change is one of my greatest passions and I love helping them tell their stories.

One of my favorite recent stories of success lives with the Alliance for Access to Cancer Care, a coalition comprised of patients, health care professionals, caregivers, elected officials and community business leaders. These advocates joined together based on their shared experiences related to accessing cancer treatments in Florida. The two types of treatments administered were intravenously and orally which had the same effect but differed in coverage by health plans, creating higher out-of-pocket patient costs. Our group of advocates banded together to raise awareness for the problem, proposed a solution and changed state policy through the efforts of all involved. Even greater success came when forty additional states enacted oral chemotherapy laws, helping millions of people across the country.

I love this example because it demonstrates the importance of how firsthand experiences, even something as scary as a cancer diagnosis, can influence change. Storytelling has the power to spark emotion and helps relate an experience to an idea.

To build your network of storytellers, it’s important to follow three steps for success:

  1. IDENTIFY. Make sure your champions understand and are aligned with the goal of your advocacy efforts. Let them know why their role is important and how their personal story can contribute to the common goal.
  2. EMPOWER. In addition to equipping your storytellers, it is important to make sure everyone in your organization – from your board president to your receptionist – is educated on the goal and knows the role they play in its success. This will help unify your message and strengthen your engagement plan.
  3. DEPLOY. Due to the personal nature of advocate stories, it may be difficult for them to share individual experiences. Help your storytellers identify the best ways to communicate and stay within their comfort zone. This could be an in-district meeting with legislative staff to a post on social media. Keep the momentum going by offering positive updates from the greater campaign to generate excitement among your advocate support base. One story could help change the course of policy or influence an elected official.

Finally, championing a cause can be time consuming. So always make sure your advocates know how appreciated they are.

Storytelling is a very important piece of your advocacy campaign. Remember to identify, empower and deploy your advocate storytellers throughout every stage of your plan. These personal connections to an issue are what people remember.

I love hearing stories of advocacy successes. To tell me your story or connect with me, send me an e-mail at ferns@themooreagency.com or call 850.224.0174.