Forming an action group is an excellent way to connect with people wanting to make a difference on a common cause. It can harness new friendships, collective intelligence, and collaboration. It can also take a campaign to a whole new level, such as attracting funding opportunities and human resources.
An action group often demands fast-paced and responsive campaign actions. While an action group often establishes and develops organically, it can take any form. Sometimes a group only lasts to complete a particular task or outcome – often called a coalition. Other groups are more on-going. Regardless of the type of group, inclusiveness is crucial.
|FORM A NEW GROUP|
Advocate – get your message across
Advocacy is the art of persuasion. It is about recommending a course of action or change of direction; giving a voice to those who are less enabled, and speaking in support of a person or a cause.
Be prepared to step out of your comfort zone. Taking action on alcohol can often stir up debates that are controversial and politically-charged.
Advocacy can take on many forms – grassroots advocacy, media advocacy, policy advocacy, direct advocacy, and client advocacy, etc. Chances are you are already an advocate without realising it. Maybe you are new to this, or perhaps you’d like to sharpen your skills. Below are tips and tools to support your advocacy efforts.
Apply for community funding
If your group wishes to apply for funding, some degree of formalisation of the group will be required. You may consider registering as a charity. You can also take other forms such as an Incorporated Society. There are requirements for such entities. To find out more, check the Companies Office.
Develop your skills
You may organise training workshops if group members are keen to develop their skills, e.g. communications strategies. Training and other opportunities on effective alcohol policies will be posted here.
The Community Communications Collective offers free online resources for organisations or groups, including social media strategy development, strategy planning, and writing skills.
Plan for action
Getting things done requires some degree of planning. Below are some simple steps to guide you through the process. You may choose to include all group members or set up a small committee for the planning process.
TIP Get members together to explore a range of options for actions. These can be further refined according to the scope and capacity of your group.
TIP It is important to involve all group members so that their voices are heard. As such, it’s worth having a facilitator to lead the planning process, which will allow the whole group to participate.
Develop a communications plan for your group or projects
It’s important to think about a communications strategy – what messages should be conveyed, publicly, internally, and/or among stakeholders. Don’t leave communications to chance. Here are some tips and tools to assist you.
- If you have an Action Plan, this can guide your communications planning.
- There is a range of groups you need to think about – group members (internal stakeholders), group partners, funders etc. (external stakeholders), your community and sometimes the wider public and the media.
- For each of these groups consider why you need to communicate with them, what the key messages will be, and how you will communicate with them.
- Some communication is regular and proactive, i.e. you generate, manage, and disseminate the messages, e.g. newsletters, website posts, press releases.
- Other communication is responsive, i.e. your response to other people’s messages or content. As such, it’s helpful to prepare some key messages and information readily available.
TIP When engaging with media always have some key facts at your fingertips. This will help you come across as confident and authoritative.
Engage with media
- Write letters to the editor/post a comment on a website or social media platform
- Respond in the media to a local issue or submit an article on a local issue
- Respond to another comment or letter
- Start a conversation
TIP Newspapers and online media will usually provide an address for the editor. They sometimes have instructions for letters such as word limits, no attachments, etc.
TIP Short and snappy is the key to getting a letter published. Direct attacks are unlikely to be published, so keep it constructive and solutions-focused. Read some that have been published on the issue or other issues and get some ideas from these.
|LETTER TO THE EDITOR TEMPLATE||MEDIA RELEASE TEMPLATE|
Engage with social media
Many people get their news, knowledge and information through their mobile devices. Readers often want personalised information and stories, with visual content (short videos are popular).
As such, it is useful to have an online presence and make use of the power of different social media, including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. Social media can also provide an interactive platform to engage with users and their wider networks through posts that they like and share. The following table summarises the functions and audience types of key social media. Most social media allow you to share information with everyone (public) or subscribed members (private).
|KEY TYPES OF SOCIAL MEDIA AND THEIR TARGET AUDIENCE|
Share the campaign resources on social media
Share any media and/or infographics on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or other social media platform.
Share the stories – New Zealanders sharing their dreams
Watch the videos and hear how New Zealanders working at the forefront of dealing with alcohol harm share their visions of a future with less harm. Please also share your vision on how your/our world would look better with less alcohol harm.
|SHARE OTHER STORIES||SHARE YOUR VISION|
Other useful resources