Engaging with Society Members to Spark Advocacy

January 31, 2019 Lila Huizenga

Many academic societies have a mission that includes interpreting and disseminating research to inform legislators and other decision-makers about the possible effects of policy initiatives on their fields. Depending on the society’s goals, there are quite a few ways that societies can engage their members around policy. One way is to create materials illustrating the various ways individual members can become advocates. Another is to highlight how published research in the society’s journals has already impacted policy, as illustrated through policy document citations, and to invite researchers to continue publishing their research in the society’s journals.

There are also opportunities to help society members communicate directly with policymakers through letter-writing campaigns, phone-a-thons, or in-person visits to members of Congress to convey messages about specific legislative issues. Beyond this, societies can create easy-to-understand briefs of published research that could be shared with members, as well as publishing policy reports on specific topics written for policymakers.

A shared vision

Whilst working with the US-based National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) on the editorial and marketing strategy for the society’s three academic journals, it was clear that NCFR’s mission matched Wiley’s closely. There was a resolute agreement that evidence-based policy is key to making well-informed decisions, and that it is crucial to place the best available evidence from academic research at the heart of policy development and implementation. NCFR wanted to highlight how research from their international scholarly journals has impacted policy, and encourage their members to become active in fostering dialogue among Family Scholars and policymakers. Educating legislators about public policy initiatives impacting families is crucial to the NCFR mission, and we wanted to support researchers who are looking to effect lasting change.

Taking steps to influence policy

As part of NCFR’s annual conference, Wiley and the NCFR collaborated on an ‘I Believe in Family Science’ campaign with the goal of encouraging members of the U.S. Congress to use Family Science research to inform and guide family policymaking decisions. The campaign was aimed at creating a dialogue between Family Scientists and the U.S. House of Representatives and Senators, as well as showcasing the use of Family Science research in policymaking to help create innovative programs that produce effective results and reduce wasteful spending.

“Wiley’s interactive exhibit that showcased NCFR’s impact on policy decisions around the world and invited the conference attendees to communicate directly with their policymakers aligned perfectly with NCFR’s mission and was a bright addition to our exhibit area.” – Diane Cushman, Executive Director of NCFR

Using conferences to inform and drive action

Colorful postcards were pinned to our booth wall at the NCFR conference, and with each postcard that a delegate took to write to their representative in Congress, part of an infographic was uncovered showing how research published in the three NCFR journals has impacted policy across the globe. Delegates loved the postcards, with more than 10% of the conference delegates using them to write to their representatives. They were also intrigued by the infographic, and many came back throughout the week to see the exhibit as more pieces of the infographic were revealed. At the end of the campaign, we mailed all the postcards on behalf of the delegates, and we’re looking forward to seeing the response they create in Washington. We hope to collaborate further with NCFR by creating more materials that help support individual NCFR members taking an active role in informing policy, as well as attracting academic research with a potential to impact public policy.

 

About the Author

Lila Huizenga

Marketing Manager, Wiley

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