Communicating with Policy Makers

Goals

Identify 3-6 best practices on targeting and/or communicating with policy makers as a nonprofit.

Early Findings

Best Practices

  • When communicating with policy makers, messaging should be kept short and to the point. Policy makers and public servants are generally very busy, with many stakeholders trying to get their attention. They don't have time to read through a long proposal or report. To get their attention, advocates should focus on concise writing (or other messaging). In addition, visuals can be extremely helpful, as the human brain tends to process those more quickly than writing. Moreover, advocates should understand their audience and tailor the messaging to speak to that audience in a way they can easily understand; "To help tailor your approach to the cognitive processes present in human beings, synthesise evidence concisely to minimise its cognitive burden, and ‘frame’ your conclusions rather than expecting evidence to speak for itself."
  • Another best practice is to avoid factual overload and instead focus on human-oriented results and emotional appeals. "A few statistics can be powerful, but too many are confusing and easily forgotten. Situate figures by comparing to a global average, or make them meaningful by relating to everyday values readers can grasp quickly." In addition, bear in mind that humans make decisions using instinct and intuition the majority of the time, so appeal to this cognitive process through emotional appeals, real-life examples, and stories.

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