Advocacy 101

1. Research.

The most important first step is research.  If you are not familiar with your state government, take a look at the post How a Bill Becomes a Law, it should get you started in thinking about the legislative process.  Be familiar with current Legislation, this post connects you to copies of the legislation currently in effect or under consideration. You should also be familiar with some of the Research that supports the use of Pulse Ox in newborn care. Your state might already have a bill or drafts of a bill, so make sure to connect with other advocates. Learn about the federal recommendation and how that might impact efforts in your area. While a simple tool, pulse oximetry screening must be implemented correctly. Gather information about protocols.

2. Identify the Key Parties in Your Area.

Find out which lawmaker represents you, who might be interested in your cause, and start reaching out.  Take a look at But What About the Politics? to help navigate the politics in your state. Reach out to influential groups in your area like the American Heart Association and March of Dimes. The AHA testified on behalf of the bill in New Jersey, and the March of Dimes testified for the bill in Indiana. Contact the lobby leader at those groups or someone in communications to connect you. Find others in your state working on pulse oximetry advocacy. Reach out to clinicians and build relationships to support your efforts.

3. Reach out.

Many people get nervous when it comes to making connections to their legislators.  For some tips, take a look at the page about Letter Writing. Garner support in social media and contact the traditional media. For guidelines about how to do this, visit our public relations section.

4. Be persistent!

Realize that the entire process could take several months or several years. Be flexible as well. A law might not be the best route for your state. For example, in Indiana, a program is in the works without a law. Be prepared to write follow up letters and to rally supporters for help. If one newspaper doesn’t write your story, contact another.