Building relationships is about two-way communication. The first step is identifying the people, organizations or groups with whom you should be building those relationships!
Qualitative relationships are ones that you may develop with an individual or small group that will have a BIG impact. These people may be directly in charge of policies that affect your classroom or may be people who directly influence others. For example, it may be that you begin to develop a relationship directly with your superintendent by inviting him or her to visit your classroom or asking her to be a member of your advisory committee.
Quantitative relationships are ones that you develop with groups and that engage a large number of people in order to gain necessary support. This could be in the form of a letter-writing campaign to your community or even a video about your program created by your students that is showcased to the entire school district. These activities seek to engage a large number of people to gain the support for the program in high numbers.
Using the proper communication tool in the right situation is beneficial to building the best quality relationships. We have developed some examples and tools for you use as resources.
A one-pager is an eye-catching way to highlight the most important aspects of your agricultural education program and reinforce the message you deliver when you advocate in person.
Here are a couple of examples from Freedom High School in Wisconsin. These highlight the achievements and impact that the Freedom agricultural education program has on the school and community.
Develop your own one-pager with our downloadable template.
Even if you’re not having a special event, having a legislator visit your program is a great way to create a connection, reinforce your message and build a relationship.
Writing a letter or email is the most popular mode of communication with a congressional office. Here are some suggestions to be sure your time is well spent:
To a Senator:
The Honorable (full name)
(Rm.#) (name of) Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator (last name):
To a Representative:
The Honorable (full name)
(Rm.#) (name of)House Office Building
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Representative (last name):
Note: When writing to the chair of a committee or someone with a special title, such as the Speaker of the House, it is proper to address them by their title, such as:
Dear Mr. Chairman:
Dear Madam Chairwoman:
Dear Mr. Speaker:
A press release is an up-to-the-minute summary of your important news. Include who, what, when, and details of why and how. Be sure to type it on your school’s or organization’s letterhead and provide your professional contact information.
If possible, include high resolution photos of the event covered in the release. If the photo files are large, you may need to upload them to a sharing site, like Flickr or Dropbox, and share the link for the newspaper to retrieve them. Write a caption for each photo, identifying the people shown and explaining what they are doing.
If you have a contact at the newspaper, send the news release directly to him or her. If you do not have a contact, call the paper first to see who would be the best person to receive your release. This one step greatly increases your chances of having your release picked up. If you email the release, copy the text of the release and paste it in the body of the email instead of sending it as an attachment. Don’t forget your own school newsletter and other special publications.
Public Service Announcements (PSAs)
PSAs are brief messages that provide helpful information to the public, solicit support for a particular cause, and/or offer an organization’s free services. Unlike paid advertising, PSAs are carried free of charge by publications, radio, and television stations in an effort to educate an audience and to encourage people to do something such as participate, call, write, or contribute.
Before attempting to place a PSA, determine who you want to reach with your message. Then identify the publications and stations in your area that service that particular audience. Once you have determined the media outlets you want to target, contact the head of eitherthe community development or public service department to find out the proper procedures forsubmitting PSAs.
Letters to the Editor
This newspaper section is an excellent vehicle for you to express your views on the value of career and technical education to policymakers and to educate people in the community. You may also use a letterto the editorto correct inaccurate facts, promote your issue or to praise/condemn a recent article. Write persuasively; include local statistics and personal stories to make your point. It is important to find the newspaper’s policy for printing the letters. Most newspapers require that letters be no more than one page.
Other NAAE Advocacy Education Tools
NAAE has many other tools you can use to build professional relationships. If you know about other useful resources we encourage you to share them with us so we can help other educators find the best tools available.
How have you built relationships to become a stronger advocate for agricultural education? Share your story!