3 books to inform your advocacy communications

Have ever had a conversation with someone about a cause you care deeply about and suddenly thought “huh? You think that about this cause?”

As disheartening as it is, they’ve done you a favour – they’ve just highlighted to you how lot’s of people think about your cause, and perhaps even told you why it is that your cause hasn’t succeeded yet.

Here are 3 books to help you build the case for your cause in a way that will resonate with people.

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Two guides to make your change making effective

Make things happenDo you ever get the feeling that making change is like paddling against a strong current?

As change makers our end goal may seem like trying to reverse the waves: advertising, lifestyle expectations, career norms, social media and more often seem to pull our supporters in the opposite direction.

Below are two key resources that when used well, can not only turn the tide for your cause, but will have knock on effects for causes like yours.

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Advocating a cause? You should learn about framing

Ducks Advocating a CauseWhen I first started advocating for causes, I thought the important thing was to tell people as much knowledge as quickly as possible. Surely if they knew the facts that I knew, they would want to take action?

I would later come to learn that this is known as the information deficit model, and that it almost never works.

What then is an effective way to inform people and move them to action?

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Is your messaging undermining your cause?

Think about the cause you care most about. When did you first commit to that cause? What was it that tipped you from vaguely interested to a committed advocate?

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that economic benefit to yourself wasn’t what did it. Probably not even the broader argument of cost benefit for the economy.

More likely, something resonated deeply with in you.

We’ve all seen campaigns that frame doing good in terms of helping ourselves – “save the earth, save money”, “donate now and win!”, “It’s good for the economy” – but is this the best way to motivate people? Could this strategy even be hurting our work in the long-term?

How can we help our supporters find the same deep motivation we did?

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What I learned from a conversation with a climate skeptic

Getting asked a tough questionIn my first week with Climate for Change,  I sat in on a focus group to hear what the community knows and feels about climate change.

The participants handed their survey’s in and I glanced over them. Oh no! Someone in the room was a hard-core climate skeptic: they thought global warming was a complete hoax.

I am so glad he was there.

I am even more glad that it was a focus group.
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What I learned about communicating climate change at Climate for Change

Conversation squareWhen I came to Climate for Change we were just finishing focus groups, and I was there for two design iterations of our gathering program. This was a great chance to get feedback and reflect on effective ways to engage people on climate change.

Some lessons we learned the hard way, some were thankfully passed on by the many wonderful people I encountered along the way who generously shared insights, knowledge, and critical thinking with us. (thank you, you know who you are!)

Here’s 6 takeaways from my six months at Climate for Change.

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How do you answer a tough question?

Getting asked a tough question
Photo Credit: US Department of Education, CC-BY

You’ve done the preparation, you know exactly what you want to say, and then it happens… someone asks you a question and it’s got you stumped. Everyone looks at you waiting for the answer. What do you do?

When I first conducting training (and often anything where people expected me to bring knowledge to the table), it was easy to feel that I had to have all the answers. The fear that we might be embarrassed by a question can easily put us into a defensive, know-it-all mode. Continue reading “How do you answer a tough question?”