How to Get Involved
BE A POLICY CHANGER
Organize people. You may have a coalition, collaborative, alliance or partnership, but chances are everyone in your group is not interested in the day to day work that policy change takes. Find out your core group: educate, train, and ask them to become ambassadors on the topic.
Broaden support. Put together a group of diverse interested parties. Alcohol and substance abuse have widespread social, disease, health and economic impact.
Be clear on what you want. Don’t ask for general support of prevention, but educate and advocate for specifics.
Use Science. The reason for policy change is driven by the research.
Make it Local. When you talk about your issue paint a picture of your community: your neighborhood, your corner store, church and schools. Local framing of issues pushes policy change as good as anything.
Use the media, and don’t pay for it if you don’t have to. Use your knowledge and retool it for your own local uses. Reporters are looking for things stories, befriend them and form advocates for the cause.
Use the editorial page. Elected officials peruse the editorials to learn about their constituents. Use the Letter to the editor and editorial functions of your paper to educate on the best practice policy change.
Know your local leaders. This doesn’t just include public officials, but there are others who hold significant power (i.e. pastors, community members, business owners, etc.). Educate people who have the ability to make a difference on your issue
Use email in targeted fashion. Use email to issue calls to action and mobilize your core grassroots supporters.
Use social media. Organize a group on Facebook (Egypt overthrew a government using this tool), and use twitter as an access point to traditional media sources. It’s free. BUT-if you don’t have the time or the capacity to keep up with it, then leave it alone.
Stay on message. Make sure your message is consistent. Teach the principle of polite ignorance “I don’t know the answer to that question, but I will look into it and get back to you” is sometimes the best option available.