AJ Stokes, Author at JVA Campaigns
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AJ Stokes, Partner

AJ Stokes has been an integral part of JVA’s success almost since its inception. AJ’s passion for fighting for working families began at a local labor hall in Toledo, Ohio, when he was very young, but in the more than three decades since, he has become a veteran operative in the labor movement, government, politics, and public affairs.

After spending the early part of his career working in Washington, DC, and in states around the country, he took his experience back to his home state, serving as both Executive Director and Chief of Staff to the Ohio House Democratic Caucus, where he orchestrated winning back the majority for Democrats in the House for the first time in fourteen years. AJ has defeated “Right to Work” twice — first as Campaign Manager to We Are Ohio in 2011 and then as general consultant to We Are Missouri in 2018. For the Ohio effort he was named Campaign Manager of the Year by the American Association of Political Consultants.

Benefits of a Grassroots-Oriented Labor-Management Program

Benefits of a Grassroots-Oriented Labor-Management Program

It’s a tale as old as time: employers versus their workers.

For generations, labor and management have gone head-to-head, each fighting for their piece. As we continue to advance into the modern age, industry leaders have begun to question: How can we meet our bottom line, advance our legislative goals, and still treat our workers with dignity? Turns out, it’s not as difficult as the history books have made it out to be. 

It’s an out-of-date notion to think that workers don’t support the industry they work for. More often than not, workers’ beliefs and goals are in line with the industry’s, so long as progress isn’t at the expense of their livelihood. Once industry leaders are able to identify what’s important to their workers and where those issues intersect with industry goals, that’s where true progress can take place.

Labor and management are in this battle together, yet individual member companies and trade unions alike must be careful: appear too generous to the other side, and employees or shareholders will be calling for your head. A grassroots-oriented approach can foster a greater relationship and collaboration with workers in the industry—without alienating key stakeholders.

Benefits of a Grassroots-Oriented Labor-Management Program

  1. Policymakers hear from a balanced yet nonpartisan coalition of “real people”—not lobbyists.
  2. Everyday stakeholders (company employees, family members, workers in supply-chain companies, etc.) have a place to join and stay informed on the issues.
  3. Management gains from the development of a national shared activist pool dedicated solely to advancing shared policy objectives.

A renewed Labor-Management program will have its best chance for survival if it is spearheaded by an entity skilled in modern methods and trusted by all sides. JVA Campaigns, a national public affairs firm with deep roots in the American labor movement and broad reach across over a dozen industries, is well positioned to help.

Turning Supporters into Advocates

Turning Supporters into Advocates

Do you want to create a group of advocates for your cause?

Creating a group of engaged, dedicated advocates can help amplify your message, build a broader base of supporters, and get more people to take action when you need them to the most. This article covers the five most important steps that you can take to grow your number of advocates.

1. Make a Clear Plan

The first step in creating a plan is understanding your audience. Ask yourself the following:

  1. Who supports your cause now? Why do they support it?
  2. Who could support your cause in the future? What would make them show their support?

It could be that you want to pass legislation to enhance STEM education, and your supporters are parents with young children. But you could also get support from people with an interest in STEM, whether they’re parents or not.  If you want to increase support for your cause, adapt your message for different audiences.

2. Choose Your Channels

Once you know your audience, make sure you’re using the right digital channels to reach those people. Understand how the right channel can help create advocates for you.

For example, if your audience is older, you may want to use Facebook. People can easily share your social posts, so make sure the content you post is designed to be shared. If your audience is on Twitter, make the content a conversation and designed to be retweeted. If you need people to contact their representatives, get them to sign up to receive “legislative alerts” so they know when to take action.

When you ask people to help you with your cause,  give them a clear idea of what you want them to do and why they should do it. It may seem obvious, but direct calls to action are much more likely to convert people to advocates than vague messaging.

3. Set Measurable Goals

Now that you know your audience and have selected your channels, make sure you have specific, realistic, achievable goals. If you have a very small number of advocates now, do you want a hundred people who take action? A thousand? If you know a legislator isn’t likely to notice eight or nine emails from constituents, then how many people would they notice? Make sure you’re setting reasonable expectations; not all your supporters will take the next step to advocacy, and you should plan for that. A small group of dedicated advocates is more impactful than a large group of half-engaged supporters.

Set your goals and work toward them.

4. Create Content that Engages

Now you have a clear plan to measure the success of your campaign, make sure that your content is as engaging as possible with each audience.

For example, say your cause is increasing investment in technology, and your audience cares about job creation for rural communities. Ads, emails, and social posts that talk about futuristic technology won’t get much engagement. Instead, frame your message around your audience’s interests. In this instance, you could write about how new technologies keep jobs local and grow the local economy.

It’s also important to ensure that the action you want people to take makes sense for the message you’re using. If you want to raise awareness about your organization, make your actions about your advocates, not yourself. For example, “We are an organization that helps create local jobs” isn’t shareable content, but “Share this post if you support creating local jobs” is. If you need people to take action and contact their representatives, the message should feel urgent and relevant to people’s lives. “Contact your senator to support local jobs” is less engaging than “Local jobs are at risk! Tell your senator to protect our community.” The most important rule is to write copy that your audience will find genuinely interesting and engaging.

5. Reward Your Advocates

Creating advocates should not be a one-way conversation. Communication has to be a two-way street if you want to maintain people’s interest. If people take action on your campaigns, make sure they’re rewarded. For example, if they comment on your tweet, make sure you like it. If they contact their representative, make sure they know what impact they had on the legislation. It’s your mutual victory (or well-fought defeat), not just your organization’s.

Also make sure that your advocates feel like insiders and understand that you value the work they do for you. This could be getting early access to information, or special mentions in social posts for particularly dedicated advocates.

In Conclusion

You now have the basics for creating digital advocates. But don’t forget: building a truly engaged audience doesn’t happen overnight and won’t maintain itself over time. Be patient and make sure you’re always creating relevant content for your advocates to engage with, even when there isn’t much you need them to do. If you don’t, people will lose interest, and you’ll have to start your audience building all over again.