Advocacy 101

As future leaders of the public relations industry, we must understand that advocacy is essential to a client’s success. As developing professionals, we need to learn what advocacy is and how it can be applied to real world practice. To do this, let’s take a look at the definition of the word:

The act of pleading for, supporting or recommending; active espousal.

Definition Part One: Pleading

As many of you may already know, advocating issues that matter to you  shows your talent in the public relations profession. As an intern or employee, you must understand advocacy to effectively promote your client. Now, you may be thinking, “Why would I plead for my company?” Although “pleading” insinuates desperation, which does not apply, an important underlying principle still remains.

If you have ever found yourself pleading for something or someone, it is most likely because you are passionate about that person or subject and want a specific outcome. In public relations, it is important to be passionate about your company or client. That passion, in conjunction with your other public relations skills, will set you apart from other employees as well as other companies, and essentially, will show your talents. You may not necessarily be pleading for your company, but you must have that same sense of passion. Passion will help you grow as a professional and will have outstanding, long-lasting effects on your client.

Definition Part Two: Supporting

As public relations professionals, we support our clients and guide them as needed while making professional decisions to help them succeed. Support is essential for effective advocacy. It means being there for your client every step of the way, and helping them make educated decisions that will contribute to their success. I often make the comparison between advocacy and cheerleading. Supporting your client means cheering them when they are successful and offering guidance and support when things are difficult. The encouragement that you give to your clients will not only help their overall success, but it will also keep their attitude positive when crises occur. Support them, be there for them and cheer for them.

Definition Part Three: Recommending

Recommending your client to potential customers or consumers is an important part of effective advocacy. As you are promoting, tell the public what your client does and why you love working for them. For example, “My company is great because it gives back to the community. If you are looking for a way to get involved, this company will be a great resource for you.”

With recommending comes understanding. You must understand what your clients are about, what they stand for, how they operate and what they bring to the community. Once you understand your client, you can effectively advocate them, promote them and help them grow.

Remember that passion, support and encouragement are essential to a client’s success. As a future public relations professional, you should advocate your client in every ethical way, despite tough circumstances and possible frustration. Be proud of your organization, and your employers will be proud of you, as you leverage their success. It’s a win-win situation.

How do you define advocacy? What other ways do you advocate your clients?

This is a guest post from Vice President of Advocacy Adam Aisner.

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