3 Digital Trends for Public Affairs Firms

Kyle CassanoBlog,Featured,Politics

Public affairs is a multi-faceted space where communications professionals, lobbyists, grassroots advocacy specialists, policy experts, political involvement specialists and associations coordinate their activities to achieve advocacy success.

And today, savvy agencies that desire to increase their effectiveness are focusing their strategic efforts on digital public affairs and digital advocacy, a space where online tools and digital communications are used to build coalitions online for grassroots support, or influence policy.

Where will digital play a role in the future of public affairs?

Here are the top 3 trends:

  1. Visual Storytelling
  2. Social Media for Government Relations
  3. Data-Driven Advocacy

Visual Storytelling

Communicating your clients’ complicated policy and public affairs messages to an audience can be rather difficult in today’s age of short attention spans and a diverse media landscape.

Successful use of visual storytelling is one way that your organization can break through the noise of today’s cluttered public policy environment to deliver a message that can be easily consumed.

The use of animated videos, infographics, or simple images that easily communicate complex data can greatly improve your chances of message penetration — reaching resonating with your target audience.

Furthermore, public affairs agencies find it increasingly difficult to get through to overworked policy staffers and policymakers who are inundated with calls and stale messages. These individuals are more likely to recollect policy issues when clear visuals are used, especially when combined with new social media tactics that reach them on channels that matter to them – I.e. Twitter.

Check out great examples of visual storytelling by visiting our website and reviewing our case studies.

Social Media for Government Relations

While social media strategy and advertising have been readily adopted by marketers for some time now, the public affairs and local government space has been slower to leverage the power of social media for advocacy purposes. Using social media for public affairs can be cumbersome and challenging, however if done strategically with clear goals it can be very rewarding.

We help our clients understand their goals around social media. Do we want to generate awareness? Or, do we want to grow an online coalition (email database) of supporters who resonate with our cause? These are two very distinct goals with two different strategies needed to achieve success.

Often, public affairs professionals will create their campaign messaging, which can be difficult to communicate via social media. Either the topic is not sexy, or it is too complicated of an issue to drip out in pieces without explaining or understanding the entire landscape.

Our team helps you overcome this challenge by creating engaging social content that aligns with your campaign messaging. The result helps your message reach key influential audiences, such as policymakers, reporters, grassroots supporters, voters, and other relevant online stakeholders.

Data-Driven Advocacy

Marketers have been doing this for years. We use quality data to inform our strategic decisions and campaign messaging. This is precisely how Trump’s campaign used digital to win the election in 2016.

These days, professionals in nearly every industry have heard the buzz word “big data,” but using data to inform your government affairs, communications and grassroots engagement strategies is not a fad — it is a necessity. However, be cautioned: not all data is created equal.

STOP buying email lists and using “Big Data” shops like Nielsen that utilize cookie-based targeting to build your coalitions! Time and time again we find that the data generated via these methods is poor quality, unreliable and even inaccurate. You want to build your coalition on a strong foundation of real users who opted-in to your coalition because care about your cause. These are users who can be mobilized and called upon in time of need.

Data-driven communications and advocacy campaigns are slowly becoming the standard for many public affairs agencies. Data helps define an audience, determine campaign messaging, and hone in on effective advocacy efforts. Data can greatly improve key performance metrics, and ultimately, increases the likelihood of an advocacy win.

Agencies who ignore this data are essentially driving blind and missing an opportunity to connect with their audience on the topics for which they care deeply.

We use data to find potential advocates, increase advocacy action rates, target specific lawmakers and help drive their advocates down the coalition funnel. These practices will continue to increase in importance as agencies collect more digital data and as software platforms become more sophisticated at automatically optimizing tasks based on data collected. This might include landing page A/B testing of messages and images, or even more advanced optimization techniques that automatically trigger online events when people opt-in to your campaign. I.e. social media posting with @mentions and automatic email sending to media and lawmakers.

Click here to see a case study where we used a data-driven approach combined with custom software to achieve campaign success.

The use of digital within the public affairs space is changing at a rapid pace. To keep up, public affairs agencies (our clients) turn to our team of experienced digital experts to guide them through this constantly-changing space.

Our team builds robust digital advocacy strategies, brings on the right digital communications professionals, and leverages the necessary software needed to implement sophisticated, data- and analytics-driven campaigns.

What next?

Have any upcoming campaigns or projects with a digital component? Give us a call! Our digital specialists will happily chat with you about our ideas on how we can work together!

To see what else we’ve been up to and are capable of doing, please take a look at our Capabilities Deck… hooray! (Click the BIG red button below to download the deck)

If you have any digital needs or know someone who does, please shoot me a call at 916.601.7527 or email us directly at hello@digitaladvocacy.com!

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