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Two ways to cast a wider net: coalitions and public engagements

In the last post, I talked about legal distinctions in the way you promote causes. Two ways that you can extend your influence by getting individuals or other organizations involved are building coalitions and conducting public engagements. Here’s a brief overview: 

Coalitions are combinations or alliances between groups and individuals for a specific reason or purpose, such as to advance or oppose a particular issue. Here is a framework for coalition-building:

–          Define the objective.

–          Identify a broad range of organizations, groups and types of individuals that you think are interested in supporting/opposing the cause.

–          Invite members of legislative bodies to support your cause.

–          Use the media and write letters, place ads and create articles that tell your story.

–          Use social media such as Facebook and Twitter, (along with all coalition members), to communicate and build support for your cause.

Public engagements are a series of strategic activities that can support your community issue. Public engagements invite participation from a variety of sources to present their side of the story and attempt to build a common understanding. Somewhat different than a coalition, public engagements are more focused on bringing average citizens together to create a civil exchange of ideas among participants. The framework involves:

–          Recruiting allies to provide financial support, volunteers and other resources such as public relations professionals.

–          Generating press coverage to attract policy makers as well as individual citizens.

–          Entering into a public dialogue to help people understand the pros and cons of issues, as opposed to ‘selling’ an issue to the public.

Choose coalition-building or public engagement based on the issue you want to support or oppose, and the defined goal of your communication activity.