Continental Airlines Launches Email Advocacy Campaign — How to Maximize Email Campaigns as Request Volume Mounts

Believe me, I’m used to frequent advocacy requests from the nonprofit organizations I support via participation and/or contributions. But yesterday’s email from Continental,
asking me to email the U.S. Department of Transportation to request approval for Continental’s Shanghai flight proposal, was the first request from a corporate entity.

Don’t get me wrong. I was actually sort of tickled pink that Continental had strategized so effectively, asking those who had flown their Beijing routes to campaign for route extension in China. Our trip to China two years ago was life-changing — we picked up and adopted our wonderful daughter, Charlotte. So maybe that strong emotional connection makes me a little different from the folks flying to China for business on a regular basis.

Nonetheless, I do want more convenient flight access to other areas of China, and I did as Continental asked. I guess they’ve made me a loyal Continental flyer to China, whether I realized it or not.

But I do wonder what corporate advocacy (frequently requested to shareholders) means for issue advocacy? If I was the Asia management at Continental, I’d do the exact same thing. What happens though, in my email box this morning, was that I choose to advocate on this request. If I had ten requests for advocacy in my email box this morning (as I sometimes do), I’d be likely to pass over one of the issue advocacy campaigns.

What this suggests is that we, as nonprofit communicators, need to get more strategic about when, and on what, we launch email advocacy campaigns. Probably a good idea to profile registered advocates on specific issue interests, and focus advocacy emails around those selects, just to reduce your emails to those most likely to generate a response. Any other ideas?

Nancy Schwartz on September 8, 2006 in Advocacy, Email and E-Newsletters, Nonprofit Communications, Unique Approaches | 1 comment
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  • Great post. To back you up, I wanted to cite the following from the DonorTrends White Paper: “Individuals are considerably more comfortable with online advocacy — urging public officals and their friends to take action on an issue — than with online giving.” Combine that with Cialdini’s momentum of compliance work, and you come to a clear conclusion for nonprofit fundraisers: ask for a small act of advocacy before you ask for money. People will be much more likely to give money after acting as an advocate.

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