grassroots 101

How to become an effective advocate

Grassroots advocacy is using your influence as an industry professional and constituent to educate and engage with lawmakers. Influence comes in a variety of forms, but it all starts with a commitment to become an advocate on behalf of you, your business and your industry.

Why should you become an advocate?

A popular phrase within the advocacy community is “If you are not helping to dictate the terms, the terms will be dictated to you.” In today’s climate, it is imperative that businesses are not only informed when it comes to public policy, but also proactive in working to shape it. Getting involved in advocacy presents a meaningful opportunity to impact the future of your business and your industry.

Advocacy has a low barrier to entry and there are many ways to participate. The below list includes examples of proactive advocacy actions, some of which you and your company may already be doing!

Are you ready to become an advocate? We’re recruiting Auto Care Ambassadors!

Auto Care Ambassadors are leaders within the automotive aftermarket who advocate on the industry’s behalf to key audiences. Those audiences include other members of the industry, media and elected officials at all levels. Ambassadors are the tip of the spear when it comes to advocating for the industry.

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Invite a lawmaker to your place of business
Engage with lawmakers locally
Come to Washington D.C.

Every two years, the Auto Care Association hosts the Auto Care Legislative Summit where industry professionals from across the country fly into Washington, D.C. to meet with their members of Congress. The Auto Care Associations handles all of the logistics, including preparation, training and scheduling. All you have to do is show up. Visit autocare.org/summit to learn more.

Encourage media to share your story

Local media enjoy writing stories about issues that impact the communities they serve. When a law change affects local business, it is important for you to speak up and share your side of the story. In addition, responding to an interview request from a reporter can raise your company’s profile and get your perspective out into the public realm. Here is an example of a member media interview.

Write or call about an issue

Personal communications go a long way in getting your message across. Legislative offices receive thousands of communications every day from a wide range of sources, but a personal, thoughtful outreach from a constituent is the most likely to produce a response. Visit Auto Care’s advocacy website  to find talking points and contact information.

Build relationships

Relationships drive advocacy. Lawmakers will always turn to those they trust when debating their position on a particular issue. As an influential constituent, you have the opportunity to cultivate those relationships with either lawmakers themselves or, in many cases, with their legislative staff. Staff are often overlooked by advocates, but given that these individuals are the lawmaker’s most trusted policy experts, relationships with staff can be just as meaningful.

Get politically involved

While advocacy tends to focus on public policy and constituent services, party politics and elections can be effective mediums for raising your advocate profile. Auto Care operates the Auto Care Political Action Committee (ACPAC), which pools member donations to support congressional candidates who support the industry, but local fundraisers or campaign volunteer opportunities present additional paths to get more involved.

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