Getting the word out, Part One

This week I’ll be talking to members of the Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (MNCCD) about legislative communications. This […]

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This week I’ll be talking to members of the Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (MNCCD) about legislative communications.

This is the time of year when everyone is trying to get the word out about bills that are in the hopper. It can be a lot of noise and for advocates, it can be frustrating. Is anyone paying attention to my issue? How do I get the word out?

It is hard to compete, especially for volunteers who are up against causes that have paid communications staff. We editors are bombarded at this time of year by the professional pitches and appeals.

But you need not give up. Planning ahead and taking easy steps can help you deliver an effective message in a written piece that can be used in different ways. With edits, you can use the same information for letters to legislators and the governor, for media outreach, and in guest commentaries to newspapers

Here’s three ideas to get you started:

One) Think about your message and hone in on a few key points.

Disability issues are often huge and overwhelming for those of us who have to navigate a frustrating system of services and supports. What are the three or four things that a piece of legislation, if pass, could change in your life? How would legislation help or hurt you?

I’m old enough to have grown up with elders who told girls and women that when we got ready to go out on dates, take off one piece of jewelry. (Quaint, eh?) The point was, don’t overdo it. The same can be said for writing about our issues and needs. Focus in on main points.

Two) Personalizing a message is a great way to make key points. How would legislation affect you? Maybe you could go to college, hire more staff, get a job with the state or hang onto more assets if a bill became law. Maybe another bill would take something away that you rely on for daily living.

You’re not writing a news article. You’ve got leeway to get personal and use real-life, personal examples. You are writing about your situation, the situation of a loved one or the situation of a greater community. You want to highlight the situation and its effects.

Three) Remember to cite specifics. Cite the bill number or number and the legislative sponsors. If there is an advocacy group to team up with, work with that group and cite them in your writing. If there is a meeting or rally coming up, cite that.

Next time we’ll discuss working with news media.

  • Wash your hands! Hands that look can still have icky germs!
  • Work with your care provider to stay healthy. Protect yourself. Vaccines are your best protection against being sick.

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