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Conducting an Advocacy Communications Program

Launching an advocacy communications program

The Challenge

The Army Alliance is a nonprofit organization formed to advocate on behalf of military organizations at Aberdeen Proving Ground. Operating under a 501(c)(4) structure, the Army Alliance is led by a board of directors and conducts its work by developing and maintaining dialogue with local, state, and federal lawmakers, and their staffs.

In the late 2000s, the business landscape in northern Maryland was rapidly changing. From 2008-2012, the number of defense-related companies in the region around Aberdeen Proving Ground rose to above 100, and many new military leaders were assigned to the installation, creating a large audience unfamiliar with the Army Alliance and its message. Similarly, the political landscape was rapidly changing. At the federal level, Congress removed earmarks from the annual federal budget process, which radically changed how the Army Alliance and other advocacy organizations operated. At both state and federal levels, tight budgets, low revenues, and the need to cut spending combined to create austerity beyond what was seen in decades.

The Army Alliance recognized that in this new environment, it needed to increase its visibility among potential sponsors, raise awareness about its work in the broader community, and increase the flow of information about important topics to shape policy on critical issues.

The Approach

Profile Partners was selected to collaborate with the Army Alliance on designing and implementing a comprehensive communications program to support its advocacy work. The first step was to develop an audience engagement strategy that specifically outlined what we planned to accomplish with each of Army Alliance’s stakeholder groups. With our course set, we then standardized information tools in terms of audience message and distribution channel. We published a quarterly newsletter, revamped the web site, developed brochures, briefing packages, exhibits, and other collateral material, refining content and distribution for specific audiences. We also built a distribution list for electronic communications and gradually transitioned all but an annual printed magazine and collateral material to electronic distribution channels.

The Result

Today, the Army Alliance enjoys a high profile in the state of Maryland as a model advocacy organization. Many more government and industry leaders are engaged in the organization and aware of its activities. The Army Alliance is regarded by other non-profits as a leader in economic development advocacy. The Army Alliance’s information materials stand out for their clarity of message and design and help the organization keep a spotlight on the issues of greatest importance to the region.

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