My last post, Social Lobbying? Sounds Familiar, touched on SOPA/PIPA as a successful model for social (grassroots) lobbying. Within the last week, we witnessed a similar effort as The Susan G. Komen For the Cure Foundation reversed course and decided to restore funding to Planned Parenthood. Here are some lessons we as association lobbyists can learn from these experiences.
1. Educate early, educate often. Bloggers talked about SOPA in the months leading up to congressional consideration. By the week of the SOPA blackout, even the most casual internet user had a basic understanding of the issue.
2. Issue management cannot be ignored. When news of SGK’s funding cuts to Planned Parenthood became public, the response was swift and overwhelming. What was announced as cuts due to changes in funding policy soon turned into a perceived politically motivated attack on the health and wellbeing of low-income women. The foundation lost control of their issue and appeared unprepared to handle the negative feedback.
3. Members of Congress and their staffs are paying CLOSE attention to social media. Continue to ignore this fact at your own peril. If you don’t have advocates online, you may have already lost the message race.
4. Buzz still counts for something. Kim Kardashian tweeted about SOPA. Kim Kardashian has 13 million Twitter followers. Even if she had no clue what SOPA meant, Kim felt that the issue was important enough to tweet about it. I’m not advocating that we get her tweeting about budget cuts, but we all have members with enough clout to make noise and be heard.