ACCE Communications Award Entry 2019
Campaign pieces found below entry information.
Develop and launch an Advocacy in Action campaign to redefine the purpose and benefits of Chamber's Advocacy programs. Create new messaging to elevate the perception of Chamber's thought leadership in the area of advocacy, and the value it brings to membership. Share the message using print, digital and video platforms to encourage more members from across industries and business sizes to maximize advocacy opportunities and evangelize to others about the value they receive.
In 2018, the West Coast Chamber launched a brand awareness campaign to share key messages with the community and raise the organization's top of mind awareness. At a high level, our four key deliverables to our members are connecting, promoting, educating and advocating. A survey and focus group study revealed that the Chamber needed to develop a clearer point of view what "Advocacy" means as it relates to our Chamber, and that once developed, that story needed to be shared clearly and consistently.
Advocacy at the West Coast Chamber is two pronged. It is about creating opportunities for our members to connect with policy makers at all levels of government, and also about facilitating conversations about key community and business issues so that all members have the opportunity to learn and to be heard. As a Chamber that is not tasked with endorsing candidates (per Board bylaws) or lobbying on legislation, the goal of the campaign's message was to take the "politics" out of it, and redefine the common perception of "advocacy" in those terms.
The campaign has elevated the Chamber's advocacy profile in the business community by positioning our Chamber as a resource for businesses and non-profits to discuss community-wide and industry-wide issues, as an opportunity for business leaders to communicate key details on issues with the people who make policy, also as a resource for elected officials to connect with local constituents. Our Advocacy in Action Guide Booklet is distributed at all advocacy events, and members routinely request additional copies. Our local media use it as a reference guide for their legislative beat.
As a direct result of the Chamber Insider Blog, the Chamber received requests from Congressman Bill Huizenga to submit the piece to the local newspaper and asked to use it in their own advocacy messaging. It was also circulated to key business leaders, who participated in a Trade and Tariffs Roundtable with the congressman. The Chamber is now a go-to resource for elected officials when they are seeking opportunities to connects with key constituents. In addition to our monthly opportunities to connect with our state elected officials, we've convened meetings with Senator Gary Peters (who had not attended a Chamber event since coming to office), Congressman Fed Upton, Congressman Huizenga, and Michigan Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist, all within the span of 90 days.
All outcomes of advocacy events and discussions are reported out to members in the blog on our website, in email communications and in our monthly magazine, Connect. Fed from emails and organic searches, the blog receives 200+ hits on our website each month since its creation in December of 2018. Members now turn to the Chamber blog as their first resource for information on upcoming elections, new legislation, and community issues.
We've reached the broader community with our advocacy video, that plays on social media, youtube and our website. This video communicates how members ranging from public to private to non-profit take advantage of the Chamber's advocacy opportunities. Whereas roundtables are specifically targeted events, and policy and governmental events have a larger following, the video is able to connect with members who we most needed to reorient to the benefits of the West Coast Chamber Advocacy programs.
- The "Advocacy in Action" campaign launched with a print piece, delivered to 550 guests at a legislative breakfast with US Congressman Bill Huizenga. This guide is also available on our website.
- At this same event, the Advocacy long from video, featuring heads of businesses and nonprofits, was premiered.
- That long form video is also used on Facebook. Additional short form interview video is used on both Facebook and Instagram.
- Due to its content focus, LinkedIn is the primary social media platform to share the blog.
- Our website is a host for the blog (https://www.westcoastchamber.org/publiclayout-blog) and the long form video (https://www.westcoastchamber.org/advocacy).
- Our monthly magazine, Connect, contains an Advocacy update with the same messaging. 2,500 copies are printed each month and mailed to primary representatives, distributed at events, and made available at locations throughout our community.
- Email marketing is a primary conveyor of the blog articles, which are sent to 5,500 people weekly.
- Newspaper was utilized for OpEd Advocacy updates.
- A new logo was developed to serve as an umbrella for all Chamber Advocacy programs, and to launch the name of the "Advocacy in Action" campaign.
Why is this Award Winning?
The campaign is award winning for several reasons.
As a Chamber that is does not actively participate in political campaigns, the Chamber's advocacy efforts had gone underrepresented in our reporting and in our marketing. Our Chamber does not have a dedicated Advocacy staff/person and the story of the impact of our advocacy was going untold. With a staff of only eight people, staff time is a valuable resource, and this campaign required dedicating an existing staff person to curating and reporting, and to coordinating the messaging and strategy of the campaign. It was an intentional shift of staff resources.
This is also award winning because of the significant resources invested in hiring an outside firm to study the perception of the Chamber's Advocacy programs. This firm also created the video with the redefined message that makes advocacy accessible to members who would not have considered advocacy to be an important benefit for them.
The messaging crafted to reframe "advocacy" in terms of our Chamber's strength as a convener and connector is also award winning. For members more concerned with ROI, the value of having an advocate for the business community might seem irrelevant or intangible. With this campaign, we were able to make advocacy relevant to members of all sizes by focusing on issues that matter to their business and their community. A popular blog post was "Why Advocacy Matters: A Message for People Who Aren't into Politics." This theme is pervasive in the campaign and resonates with members and government officials alike.
The quality of the published materials is award winning, both from a design and editorial standpoint. The voice and look are consistent and on theme from booklet to blog to magazine to logo. This branding is also consistent in social media usage.
Most award winning is the way that this campaign built and reinforced relationships between our Chamber and elected officials, and between our members and elected officials. In a predominantly Republican area, Democratic Senators are now attending events that they had previously not and asking us to convene roundtables with our members. When a new governor was elected to the State of Michigan, one of the first calls the new administration made was to the West Coast Chamber, asking us to convene a meeting so they could meet our members.
Creation of a Logo for Advocacy in Action
Advocacy in Action Video
Advocacy in Action Blog Posts
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