Monday, December 14, 2009

Action Strategies is offering a Pro-bona lobbying grant

Kicking off 2010, we're grateful for all the support we have received over the course of the last year. As part of our desire to demonstrate our continued dedication to the non-profit sector, we will be offering our services pro-bona to one deserving organization seeking to make their case to Parliament.

As part of this offering, we are providing up to a year of ongoing federal government relations support to nationally based organizations to include:

- relationship development and meeting coordination with civil servants, Members of Parliament, and Senators
- legislative monitoring to ensure your organization stays on top of the issues
- government grant research and writing (if required)
- grassroots campaigns to mobilize your supporters before government

If this is of interest to your organization, we ask that you submit your proposal/ request outlining the following items:

- a complete profile of the organization including a break down of the board of directors and their biographies
- a description of your organization and its history of building networks of support/ membership across Canada (or in the least a minimum of 2 provinces)
- describe the cause you are seeking to support and why Canadians (and why legislators should care)
- describe the media coverage your organization has managed to garnish

We look forward to your proposals!

Mark Buzan is Principal of Action Strategies, a GR Consultancy for non-profits. If you have questions on how you feel your organization could benefit from legislative monitoring services or even undertaking a grassroots advocacy initiative. Subscribe now to his Lobbying tips newsletter at www.actionstrategies.ca

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Do non-profits and associations allot professional development funds in public relations or marketing for their staff?

I've started a discussion on my LinkedIn group. I'll hope you'll check it out:

Do most professionals prefer in-person training, or distance learning (i.e. webinars)?


Best regards. Mark

LinkedIn Profile: http://ping.fm/ckBJ1
LinkedIn Group for Non-Profit Public Relations: http://ping.fm/A0dPY
LinkedIn Group for NonProfit Government Relations: http://ping.fm/1hqCe

Mark A. Buzan, APR
Principal & Chief Magnifier
Action Strategies
#3, 270 rue Champlain
Gatineau, Quebec J8X 3S1
819.770.2899 phone
877-336-2701 toll free fax
http://ping.fm/HZ9RV (Action Strategies website)
mark@actionstrategies.ca (email)

Friday, December 11, 2009

How Association Executives can Maintain and Track Networks of Contacts for better Lobbying

As 2009 comes to an end and Parliament prepares to recess, it's time to take stalk of your network of contacts and process for monitoring the legislative and regulatory process. There are 312 Members of Parliament in Ottawa and 105 Senators. With anywhere from 10 to 20 different committees meeting each day referring through hundreds of testimonials and background materials, even the most seasoned association public affairs professionals can find themselves encountering challenges. Add on the need for media monitoring to put a contextual and political analysis of affairs and the process becomes all the more challenging.

At Action Strategies, we have been able to maintain a consistent level of contacts through a number of techniques that include:

Attendance at political fundraisers: also a social opportunity, political fundraisers can be a great opportunity to not only demonstrate one's tacit support for a politician, it also positions my clients in a favourable light when we respectfully disagree on a point of order or want something changed. Also, if you are so inclined, volunteering in political parties can also help your cause.

By mixing our public relations activities with our government relations services, we multiply our contact base: It amazes me each day that as we serve our association and non-profit clients in their social media, public relations and marketing communications needs, inevitably we we often find ourselves undertaking initiatives or attending networking events that put us in contact with other professionals who share their contacts with us. Also interesting is that in many instances, legislators themselves often take part in these events offering an opportunity to relay my clients concerns onto them in a social atmosphere.

Find Other Opportunities to Maintain Contacts – Local organizations often have their Senators and Members of Parliament speak at luncheons and other gatherings. Many MPs also frequently schedule “Town Hall Meetings” where any area citizens can talk with them. Look for such events in your area and go, or have someone from your company attend, and talk with the Member, mentioning your company. Send a follow-up letter to them after any personal discussion. Also, send them a letter at least several times a year commending them for some position they have taken, even if it does not relate specifically to your business. Members need to know that you are paying attention to what they are doing and that you care.

Maintaining and monitoring legislative and political digests - To be an effective practitioner, you really do need to have a grasp on a number of different subscriptions, publications, and media sources to monitor committee meetings, upcoming legislation, and who said what. Keeping on top of this information can be a challenge but it also provides us the chance to identify up-and-comers.

By implementing these strategies and maintaining my contacts from the time of when I worked as a Legislative Assistant to Jason Kenney, MP, I have been able to open doors in many corners of government.

Finally, I cannot stress enough the value of putting in place a system of monitoring the progress of legislation and identifying the possibilities of regulations that can come about regularly. Each year, hundreds if not thousands, of regulations and bills go through the system. While many associations stay on top of the issues of importance to their membership, it can be a tall order to fill expecting them to know of every possible politician's quote affecting their issue, Private Member's/Senator's Bill, upcoming committee hearing date, or regulation. For this reason, I believe the value of engaging legislative monitoring into your advocacy efforts cannot be overlooked.

Addressing this point, Action Strategies has launched it's newest GR service: Legislative Monitoring. Are you on top of everything occurring on Parliament Hill and in the Provincial capitals? What have been your experiences in developing networks of contacts in the legislative system?

Mark Buzan is Principal of Action Strategies, a GR Consultancy for non-profits. If you have questions on how you feel your organization could benefit from legislative monitoring services or even undertaking a grassroots advocacy initiative. Subscribe now to his Lobbying tips newsletter at www.actionstrategies.ca

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Are you moving your organization into 2010 with a Social Media Strategy?

Social media, like it or not, is here to stay. Unfortunately, many non-profits and associations still remain confused on how to implement social media into their communications initiatives. A mystery for many, social media need not be beyond the capacity of non-profit organizations.

When Action Strategies works with it's clients on social media strategy, we work to repurpose your organization’s online PR and social media strategy is so as to wire together any content that you produce into many different web sites, in as automated a process as possible. To be effective, you need to have an understanding of how this will fit into your overall public relations and establish which social media presences will be your "anchors" vs. your "outposts". We walk our clients through developing a very robust identity and set of connections on specific Anchor Sites (eg LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, etc), and then develop a thinner identity on a large number of Outpost Sites. The Outposts lead people both to your Anchor sites and to your main web site. At the same time, your friends/connections/contacts will be connecting to you through your Anchors, and your prospects, clients and the media will find you through better and more consistent exposure on Google.

By undertaking an outpost and anchor strategy, the objective here is to connect with audiences all over the social media sphere (and internet) and draw them into your website, blog, or in the very least, your anchor sites where your team most regularly interacts with fans and supporters.

Posts on outpost sites incite visitors to your profiles downwards through to the various other positions your organization holds on the net and as a result, allow them to connect with other fans of your cause. In addition, by creating such buzz on so many other sites on the net, your organization's position in Google search engines improves and the likelihood of connecting with media, sponsors and other connections increases too.

Because the power of your strength in social media rests upon continually putting out good and relevant content, the challenge comes in assuring that your potential audiences receive information about your organization through the numerous internet forums they prefer. The trouble of course in all of this is identifying which out of the 300+ social media sites out there will act as your anchors and outposts. As an organization, you cannot nor should you try to be in every single sphere of activity. Answering that question involves the first step of a social media strategy: the social media audit which answers clearly where your audiences are located and how you need to reach out to them.

Do you know where your audiences are in the social media sphere? Give us a call for a free consultation and quote on setting your organization on the right step.
Mark Buzan is principal and chief magnifier in Action Strategies, a full service strategic communications, public relations and public affairs consultancy for nonprofits and associations. Contact him for advice on reaching audiences you may or may not have yet considered in your marketing communications and PR campaigns. You can view his website at www.actionstrategies.ca.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Yes, Non-Profits CAN Build an Energized Fan Base with Social Media

As many know, last week, I hosted my first independent webinar. It was a great success with over 95 registrants from all over North America. Many requested a transcript or recording of the presentation and as such, I invite you to take a look:

Open up the video in a separate window and/ or download it
For your information, the video is in Quicktime and runs for a total of 54 minutes, 21 seconds. (Click here to download Quicktime). You can also download the slides in Powerpoint format here or in Keynote format here.

Mark Buzan is the Principal and Chief Magnifying Officer in Action Strategies, a full service Public Relations and Advocacy consultancy for associations and non-profits. He employs a number of services such as social media in order to aid his clients increase support and engage their stakeholders. Please register for his free newsletter series in public relations or government relations.