Welcome to Judith’s second blog on successful legislative music therapy advocacy, addressing advocacy skills and communication pathways. The following is a brief overview excerpted from her upcoming presentations for the Online Conference for Music Therapy, February 18, 06:15 GMT and the Western Region Conference in Salt Lake City, March 23, 5pm.
The successful legislative advocate is well-armed with multi-faceted ways of communicating music therapy’s strengths. As a member or supporter of the State Task Force, s/he recognizes that one person alone does not possess all the required skills for a successful campaign, nor has the time to execute all supportive areas. Therefore, the well-rounded, cohesive Task Force comprises diverse skill sets to facilitate maneuvering successfully through many different target markets, including public and private sectors. When building your team, recruit people – music therapists and non-music therapists – with specific skills and willingness to volunteer, from a diverse pool of your colleagues, support staff, family, friends, media, business leaders, board of directors, caregivers and clients. Legislators like to see their constituents from all walks of life. The Task Force Chair is optimally a strong leader capable of melding many different personalities, communication styles, commitments, and expertise, as well as demonstrate his/her willingness to feature everyone else and allow others to lead, too. Here are some thoughts about skill areas needed for successful advocacy.
- Crafting all correspondence, advocacy aka marketing materials (print, internet, video), and public speeches to be appropriate within each target market. (i.e. crucial meetings with 30-second to 3-minute overviews with legislators in hallways or social media for timely connections and squelching misinformation)
- Connect meaningfully with legislators to create advocacy. (i.e. read their bios for information related to interest areas)
- Build advocates who are state agency leaders, business leaders, clients and caregivers. (i.e. enthused parents want to shout to the world what is happening so file their written permission and story for that moment when media contacts you)
“Some people skate to the puck. I skate to where the puck is going to be.” ~Wayne Gretzky
Timing is crucial with appropriate means of verbal and written communication methods. Find out what communication method works best for each person, work setting, or situation. As the legislative journey continues with increasing intensity, you may find that previously effective methods are no longer used and 1-20 word texts are optimal!
- Develop good relations with your personal legislator and the legislator in your business’ district to build trust for that “final hour” when they may vote without time to read legislation updates. They just may trust your advice.
- Your party line (Republican or Democrat) may suit you for special assignment when the power of persuasion is crucial.
- Discover what time of day is best using which communication method for optimal connection.
- Become friends with legislative staff as they are your best connection to their legislator.
Verbal communication happens in-person (first impression sticks), telephone, video conference, and possible public bathroom discussions. Written communications include letters, emails, eNews, texting, press releases, social media, and adaptable advocacy packets.
- Be mindful and respectful of time.
- In–person and video conferencing can be terrifying while testifying before legislators. Speak with humble confidence and respect (know protocol and listen). Take notes, be willing to admit not knowing the answer, and follow up asap being mindful of protocol.
- Let your passion lead with a brief client story that interests legislator(s), cost effectiveness, etc.
Listen to music therapist Kat Fulton’s interview with Judith on the Music 4 Life Radio Show podcast aired June 10, 2011. Because Kat experienced loss of one communication method, she created and strengthened another method that is now the core of her business model that reaches ’round the world.
“Politics should be the part time job of every citizen.” ~Dwight D. Eisenhower
[Judith notes that successful legislative advocacy is the political process to influence public policy.]
Reference Judith’s January 5 blog post for the link to the advocacy personality quiz and read about the important collaborative efforts and support offered by AMTA and CBMT.