Acquiring and Educating Advocates

Maintaining your current advocates and gaining new ones are cornerstones of a mature advocacy program. Your affiliate leaders will need to cultivate and retain active members who are knowledgeable about issues and educated about how to communicate your affiliate's messages.

Establish a Culture of Advocacy

It is critical for affiliate leaders to develop a culture of advocacy that fits their society's needs and that their members are comfortable with. Once members learn and adopt the culture of advocacy, it is important that each new board member and affiliate leader reinforce this culture and educate new members on what is expected of the R.T.s in the affiliate society. Because affiliate societies are often focused on holding a great annual meeting or providing continuing education opportunities for members, developing a focus on advocacy activities and making them part of your affiliate's ongoing culture is not something that happens overnight. By being determined to build an advocacy culture, the affiliate society can establish a strong advocacy reputation that builds continuity and will be long lasting. 

After the affiliate society has completed its plan to build an advocacy culture, this information should be promoted to new members and steadfast members continually. Keep in mind the marketing "Rule of Seven" — an old adage that says a person needs to hear or see a message seven times before they take action — and remember repetition and consistency are key. 

Consider the ideas below when promoting advocacy and action:

Keep Your Website Copy Up to Date

The affiliate society's website is one of the most important tools to use to educate advocates and communicate current advocacy information to the affiliate membership. A successful affiliate should have current information about its advocacy events and activities and information must be consistently updated. Social media outlets like Facebook or Twitter should also be used to communicate calls to action and current information. Board members, legislative committee members and public relations committee members can write comments that speak to advocacy and the affiliate's action on issues that are important to the R.T. profession. These comments should include information about pending legislation and regulations; the affiliate's position and actions on those issues; talking points and advocacy training opportunities.

Survey Current and Potential Members

Consider conducting surveys to gather members' opinions on pending issues and help guide the affiliate in developing its position or to provide additional information from technologists in the field. Affiliate societies must understand the needs of technologists in their state. Survey best practices can help affiliate leaders create a survey that helps them gather information about how an issue can affect technologists throughout the state, gauge the need to take action and assess members' interest in acting on an issue.

Communicate With Your Audience

All advocacy email communications to current and potential members should inform them about actions the affiliate has taken on an issue, anticipated outcomes and, if needed, a call to action. Affiliate leaders might want to hold in-person meetings with members and provide talking points to assist with word-of-mouth communications when asking R.T.s to join their affiliate and help with advocacy efforts. Informative and personalized conversations can help assure advocates that the affiliate society is the organization to join.

Affiliate societies can demonstrate their active advocacy presence and involvement to potential new members and grow their membership by proving that the affiliate is the local organization that protects the radiologic sciences profession in their state. The best way to ensure that your affiliate is heard by lawmakers is to consistently inform R.T.s about the actions the affiliate is taking in advocacy issues.