Advocacy 101: Connect with anyone, but not everyone.
Planting your advocacy farm starts with creating and dispersing special, personalized moments.
We talk a lot about storytelling and marketing here at SchoolCEO—and for good reason. The best storytellers for your schools—students, families, staff, and community—have the power to drastically change the way your district and brand are perceived. So finding ways to nurture and strengthen your district’s relationship with these stakeholders is paramount. You don’t just need passive fans—you need advocates who will passionately and actively share your best stories, earning you more supporters along the way.
Think of the conversation surrounding your schools as a little plot of land. We say “little” because, realistically, the people in your community only spend so much time thinking about your schools, and an even smaller amount of time talking about your district. So we have just a bit of space to work with, a little plot.
You need a farm here (think corn, not cows): a bountiful field full of positivity. But crops don’t grow unless they’re planted first. Left to its own devices, your little patch of land won’t yield much but dirt and weeds, maybe a few random flowers. If you want to grow advocates, you need to plant seeds: personal, intentional moments.
Of course, not every moment will result in an advocate, just as not every seed in a field will successfully grow into a plant. But by purposefully initiating those authentic moments, you’re creating a space that might eventually bear fruit: positive conversations.
To make this happen, you can plant your own advocacy farm: a system that helps you and your brand representatives intentionally create the personal connections that drive people to advocate for your schools.
You can’t create moments for everyone in your community, and that’s okay.
Moments turn into stories worth telling in part because they’re deeply personal. It’s important to keep this in mind as you strategize. If you’re talking to everyone at once, you’re probably not reaching anyone. The more individualized these moments are, the more impact they’ll have—and the better your chances of building strong advocates.
If you can’t target everyone, who should you target? The truth is, you shouldn’t really be targeting anyone in particular—though you may be tempted to.
You probably know off the top of your head whose opinions carry the most weight in your greater community. But if you only create special moments for the people with the highest social status, it’s going to seem disingenuous, and it’s not going to drive advocacy.
Ideally, you want to scatter personalized, special moments throughout every group in your community, like seeds evenly distributed in a field. Then you’ll be on your way to growing a vibrant and diverse group of advocates for your schools. Now that’s what we call a high-yielding crop.
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