Over the past several weeks I have offered advice for advocates from both a soccer player and a coach. Today I offer more advice from (an aging, rec league) player, thus making this an occasional series.
Below are three more insights for advocates from the pitch.
Talk to each other
The best soccer games are loud â€“ not just fans chanting and singing, but players constantly talking to each other. The field is big and a player can only see a small part of it at once; players count on their colleagues to tell them whatâ€™s going on around them and help figure out what to do next. The best advocates do the same. Even as they focus on their part of the campaign, they are keeping their eyes on the larger effort and offering input: the online team suggests the Hill team use short bullets that can be repurposed as Tweets; the Hill team lets the communications team know what papers they see in legislative offices (if a paper is in a legislatorâ€™s office, it gets read by the legislative staff, and is thus worth pitching); and so forth.
Listen to each other
The corollary to talking is listening. Soccer players are competitive and can have big egos. We all think we know what weâ€™re doing, and that can get in the way of hearing what is often good advice. Advocates are the same. Too often, social media professionals loathe listening to experts in dead-tree media, grassroots organizers have disdain for lobbyists, and lobbyists roll their eyes at everyone. But the best advocates, like the best players, manage their egos and listen to those around them. If an organization or campaign is good, the people in all of the positions are smart and have good things to say and are thus worth listening to (if thatâ€™s not the case, get better staff). This doesnâ€™t mean doing everything everyone says â€“ the advice is often contradictory so couldnâ€™t take all of if you wanted to anyway, and like those offering input youâ€™re smart and should use your judgment, but it does mean considering the input of your colleagues, especially if they see parts of the game or campaign out of your line of vision.
Trust each other
The corollary to the corollary is trust. Players need to trust the defender behind them will cover whatever is going on behind them, and players up front need to trust the run will be there when itâ€™s needed. Advocacy campaigns are the same. The online team needs to have confidence the legislative team will advance the common messaging and share intelligence, and the legislative team needs to trust the grassroots advocates to reinforce the message being delivered on the Hill. People need to trust their input is being heard and taken seriously, and they need to trust the advice they are getting is good. Teams that donâ€™t trust each other usually lose, both on the pitch and on the Hill.