RELATIONSHIP INTELLIGENCE Technology + “Common Sense” = Success

By Chip Felkel

Over the last twenty-five years as an advisor, counselor and strategist on countless high-stakes, high-profile public policy battles, I have been struck by how little organizations, whether they are corporations or associations, seem to actually know about their members. Far too often, I have heard that their process for knowing who they know involves a hard to update, or even find, excel spread sheet. Even worse, the organization is relying on the institutional knowledge of their lobby team, who might depart, retire, or meet an unexpected demise. That seems to be a risky process.  Of course today, with the onset of digital advocacy platforms, it is very easy to find out who they follow, who follows them, and what they post, report or show interest in but there is more to advocacy than tweets and retweets. If you are in a big policy battle, chances are there are multiple groups taking various positions, each of you placing ads, calling offices, sending emails. That translates in to a lot of noise. Further, a recent Harvard study suggest that face-to-face interaction, is 34 more times more effective than an appeal via email. Let that sink in before you launch yet another “action alert”.

The core of what we do is capture valuable, actionable information about your stakeholders’ relationships and their willingness to engage with their elected officials. We find who they know, how well and how they are willing to contact these important policy-makers – with personal interaction. Before you discount the value of personal relationships as part of your advocacy effort, think about your own contact not only with elected officials but in every day life. Aren’t you more likely to respond to someone you actually know? Be honest. Maybe that’s too “old school” for some to appreciate and besides its just easier to hit the SEND button and cross your fingers, right? I don’t think so. I think it is smart to know what relationships your organization has to leverage. I think it makes a lot of common sense. I know, and our clients know, that it is a powerful weapon in public policy battles.

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