Let’s face it – some causes are much more sympathetic than others. A smart communicator understands this and shapes her argument accordingly. Example: we previously worked with a smart man who raises millions for seeing eye dogs. He understood that donors weren’t inspired by helping people with impaired vision as much as they were inspired by the cute puppies. As Squiggle pointed out – it’s all about the puppies. As always; he was right.
Safe injecting rooms are currently a big issue in Victoria. IV drug users are some of the least liked, most villified people in the community yet too many pro-injecting room advocates are talking about meeting the needs of addicts. Wrong. Joe Citizen doesn’t particularly care to offer injectors education, warmth, privacy, clean needles and the like.
Instead; talk about how a safe injecting room makes streets safer for older people, how business owners can trade unimpeded, how police could be freed to perform other tasks, how playgrounds will be cleared of syringes. These are some of politicians’ most treasured audiences. Those audiences might also be more persuaded.
There are parallels with mental health advocates. Yes we want services to assist people with mental illness for their own sake but talk up the specific, tangible benefits to other groups in the community. Start with carers who may not need to be fulltime unpaid psych nurses. Go to police who will be able to spend time on othert matters.
For some this is too tricky, cutesy, folksy. To others it’s ‘duh’. Either way, it’s a more effective path to the same end. Take it.
We’ve been putting out some media releases lately on the Yarra Council proposal. You’re never going to get the general public empathising with injecting drug users but you can get them to identify community benefits. To me, one of the most powerful arguments for the Sydney centre is the strength of support for it within the local community (residents and business operators).
What has been striking about the discussion of the Yarra proposal is the apparently overwhelming support for it by local residents. That’s what we should be focussing on.
Of course, it’s a fine line between addressing mainstream concerns and further marginalising a pretty vulnerable group of people.