Making Your Message Shine: What I’ve Learned in Three Years as an Advocate
What is an advocate? Merriam-Webster defines an advocate as one who defends, maintains, supports, promotes, or pleads the cause of another person or group. At Noonday Collection, we call advocates (including Noonday Ambassadors like me) world changers. But what does it really mean to be an advocate? What does it mean to plead for the cause of another? How can you to use your actions to change the world?
Advocacy looks a little different for everyone. Every person has a different perspective and a different story to share. For me, I learned about advocacy my freshman year of college through Dressember, a month-long fashion challenge and anti-trafficking campaign. From there, my interests grew into ethical purchasing and sustainable fashion.
Whether your cause is related to climate change, human trafficking, animal welfare, or fashion, your goal as an advocate is to communicate your passion for an issue, your desire for change, and your hope that others join you. In this article, I share some of my tips for being a successful advocate.
Defending, supporting, and promoting your cause requires effective communication, especially if you want to gain traction with politicians, companies, or your community. But what makes your message effective?
Tip #1: Utilize Effective Messaging
The first way to communicate well with your community and interested parties is to be passionate. Think about how you felt when you first learned about the injustice of your issue, or how you felt when you first learned there was a solution to the problem at hand. Take those feelings, the thoughts that drive you, and share that passion with others!
Part of the reason I became a Noonday Collection Ambassador is because I firmly believe their business model is alleviating poverty around the world. I am so excited about the lives that are being changed as a result of Noonday, and my customers hear that excitement every time they talk with me. It’s infectious! Be excited about positive change, be heartbroken for the problems in the world, be passionate about your cause, and share those feelings with others!
Passion is everything in advocacy, but sometimes it can get in your way a little. Has someone ever asked you about your cause and, in your excitement, you’ve way overshared and muddled your message?
I’m guilty of this when I’m sharing about International Justice Mission (IJM), the largest anti-trafficking organization in the world, on Clemson’s campus. A freshman will walk up to our table at the club fair and suddenly I’ve spent five minutes talking about a very specific aspect of IJM’s mission yet failed to mention it’s an anti-trafficking organization!
To keep from oversharing, I remind myself Michael Scott’s words to Dwight Schrute in The Office: K.I.S.S – keep it simple, stupid. Keeping it simple is my second way to effectively communicate your message. Boiling down your message to the key mission and delivering that with passion is the best way to share about the cause you care about. Not sure what your key mission is? Craft an elevator pitch, or a short, practiced statement outlining the biggest idea you want to share, a helpful story or statistic, and what your audience can do to help. Not only is an elevator pitch simple, but it is also consistent. Consistent messaging produces long-term results.
Tip #2: Make Your Message Personal
We need people from all walks of life sharing their stories and talents to advocate successfully.
My fellow Dressember advocates are excellent examples of advocating their own way. During the month of December, men and women across the nation wear dresses and ties to raise awareness about and money for the fight against human trafficking. So many advocates get creative with their fundraising! Artists sell their artwork, friends host clothes swaps, potters create themed mugs—the possibilities are endless!
You can bring your unique twist to your message and your cause. When you make the message your own, your passion shines through! Communicate your message effectively but do it in a way that is personal to you. It’s easy to get caught up in the comparison game, but don’t listen to the lie that there is only one right way to advocate. Assess your strengths as a person and your opportunities right where you are. For me, I’ve chosen to take advantage of every opportunity as a college student to share about ethical purchasing and human trafficking with my campus.
Tip #3: Keep Going
Finally, my last piece of advice is to not give up. Advocacy burnout is a real thing. Sometimes you feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the fight, sometimes you can’t come up with a good campaign, and sometimes you just need a break.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, break down your lists into achievable tasks. Focus on the ideas that excite you the most and push forward with those. When you run out of ideas, lean into your community. Let them encourage you and brainstorm with you! And when you’re truly burnt out, take a moment for yourself. Reflect on all that you’ve accomplished! When you take time to care for yourself, you allow yourself to show up stronger and more authentically than ever.
Above all, be honest, even when you’re tired. Being vulnerable and transparent with your audience increases trust and authenticity. When December 28th rolls around, I’m very tired of wearing a dress all month, and usually I’m pretty vocal about that with my friends and followers! But when you embrace the reality of your situation and admit that you’ll never be perfect, you’ll be surprised by the progress you can make with yourself and with your goals.
These are two posts from my Instagram – one from December 2018 and another from December 2019. One funny and one not so funny. The point is to be honest about how you’re feeling!
Meet Ashley Crunk
A student at Clemson University, Ashley is passionate about improving global economies and labor standards – when she discovered Noonday, she knew becoming an Ambassador would be the perfect platform for making the change she wants to see. Ashley’s also your girl if you’re looking for affordable ways to dress sustainably or DIY projects anyone can do!