We are pleased to welcome Barry Jackson to our #StrategySession today to share his experience and contribution to Majority Strategies’ Community Architect, a new, strategic approach to advocacy that merges data and political insights to help businesses, trade associations and others achieve their public affairs goals.
From your perspective, how has advocacy changed?
When I first got into the advocacy field, there were limited venues and means for people to make their voices heard. People used to think that the end all, be all for advocacy was in Washington. Some still do, and those people miss the boat.
Technology has empowered the individual voices of regular people. If you want to impact policy, you are going to have a much bigger voice and validation of your argument when the issue in front of the CEO, Congressman, Mayor – whomever you are trying to influence – is echoed by the voices of a hundred, or a thousand, or a hundred thousand people in their constituency who are saying, “This issue matters to me. This is what we want.” It’s exciting because it is the evolution of power from the few to the many.
Maybe the best illustration is in the idea of an economist, James Buchanan, and his theory of ‘clubs,’ focusing on like-minded people joining together for equal benefit. One example he used was a swimming club. Many families couldn’t own a pool on their own, but if they put their money together, they could have a pool. That provided a tremendous benefit until there were too many people in the pool. That’s the old model of advocacy, believing that inevitably, the pool will be full. The reality is, though, in advocacy and politics, there is no limit to the size of your pool.
If you’re doing advocacy correctly, there is no boundary on the number of voices you can get involved if you’re willing to be smart about it.
What is the biggest risk for those who refuse to adapt and change?
Strength comes in numbers. If you’re a company or an elected official and you are under pressure or under attack, knowing what your team is made of – who they are, how strongly they feel about an issue, will they raise their voices – allows you to make a more informed decision about how you should react to whatever the demand of the moment may be.
It is a huge risk not to adopt a community-driven engagement process. If you have your team – your community – together, composed and impassioned, you know how to react to the moment in the moment.
If you don’t know who the right audience is, you have a limited ability to strategically respond to the right issue in the right moment.
You are passionate about Majority Strategies and Community Architect. Why?
When you put everything together that Majority Strategies has assembled – between the team of people, the work ethic, the product, the technology, the data – it is the perfect, sustainable energy system to empower their clients.
If you’re a county commissioner or a state representative or a member of Congress, you’re voting yes or you’re voting no. Too often, decision-makers in advocacy look at their audience in that same way: yes or no, us versus them. But people aren’t that way and Majority Strategies recognizes that.
The media and the chattering class talk about generic issues, but Community Architect allows you to understand and hear what your audience actually want, making their voices matter more than the usual loudest voices in the room.
One of the things Majority Strategies does so well, and why I am so excited about Community Architect, is that we don’t look at each individual as a single entity that is defined in only one way. Once you understand the power of technology and the power of information, we can figure out the best way to communicate to the right people with the right message. Because we filter through the noise, for every dollar a client spends, they are getting way more value out of Community Architect.
How will Community Architect continue to change advocacy in the years to come?
We hear a lot about ‘science decrees X. We must listen to the scientists.’ The truth is, though, science is never settled because science is an ongoing exercise in hypothesis, test, adjust, re-hypothesize, test again. And Community Architect takes the same approach to advocacy. The people on the front lines for Majority Strategies understand there is an infinity of variables that goes into how an individual thinks about an issue, party or company. And that variables are constantly shifting in how strong or weak of an impact they will have on a particular person, a person’s mind, or a person’s point of view.
You have to start with the understanding that there are not just 50 characteristics that define a constituent, voter or consumer; there are as many characteristics as the cloud has room to store. Then you add in the strengths of Majority Strategies: understanding data and technology, how to find real people, and the creativity in how to move them.
There are no other teams in this country that think about problems with that holistic view and have the incredible set of tools that Majority Strategies can apply.
Continue the conversation with our Community Architects. Reach out today to get started.
Majority Strategies is proud to include Barry Jackson as a member of the Board of Advisors. One of only two people to ever serve as Senior Staff to the President and Chief of Staff to the Speaker, Jackson played an instrumental role in drafting and directing the “Contract With America” that helped Republicans secure the House majority in 1994 for the first time in 40 years. He reprised that role in 2010, overseeing House Republican’s successful effort to retake the majority with the “Pledge to America.” Prior to serving as Chief of Staff for Speaker John Boehner, Jackson acted as President George W. Bush’s Assistant to the President for Strategic Initiatives and External Affairs. In this position, Barry managed the White House offices of Political Affairs, Public Liaison, Intergovernmental Affairs and Strategic Initiatives. Jackson is Managing Director of The Lindsey Group and a strategic advisor with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.