Walk Up Advocacy: Planning Proactive Strategies

Walk-Up Advocacy
2024 Feature Nominations

When veteran lobbyists Kim Crouch and Abby Hammond were concepting Walk Up Advocacy, their advocacy and strategic planning consulting firm, they found baseball offered the best analogy for the client service.

Hammond came up with the name at her son’s little league game when walk-up songs were played before each hitter walked up to home plate. “When you get up, and you advocate, you expect to hit a home run. What have you done? Are you prepared?” said Hammond. “First base is what is your strategic advocacy plan, what are your issues? Second base is what efforts have you made to train within your organization to ensure that everybody agrees and that there’s a consistent approach? Third base is what have you done publicly to educate why this potential policy change is good or bad. If you put all three of those pieces together and stay consistent, eventually, you’ll walk up and hit a home run.”

Accordingly, sports enthusiast Crouch and Hammond decided a home plate was the ideal logo for the firm.

Crouch recently served as the executive director of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice (NCAJ). In addition, she spent nearly 15 years as the director of government relations for the NC Bar Association. She earned her Juris Doctor from the UNC School of Law.

Hammond worked with Crouch as the director of government affairs for the NCAJ. She previously was counsel for the NC Rules Review Commission (the body that reviews almost all rules before they are codified in the NC Administrative Code). She earned her Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law.

Collectively, they have over 30 years of experience.

Gap in the Marketplace

Walk Up Advocacy works with companies, organizations and nonprofits that have locations in the Southeast or are domiciled elsewhere but do business in the region.

“We identified a gap in the marketplace around advocacy and strategic planning,” said Hammond. “There are a lot of folks doing lobbying and a lot of folks doing political communications work but there are very few organizations putting together a proactive advocacy strategic plan.”

All too often, entities are blindsided by proposed legislation that may be injurious; then they have to be reactive. Crouch and Hammond coach swinging at the ball early, and putting together a proactive plan to help craft legislation that positively impacts the entity.

Three Elements

Crouch said advocacy programs should include three elements – lobbying, communications with the public, and internal structure, which she said is often overlooked.

Leadership must agree on the goals and strategies, even if some of the players had differing views during the planning process. “You need to have a plan in place so everyone can carry it forward regardless of the personalities involved in the organization,” said Crouch. She noted that CEOs get replaced, and boards of directors get shuffled, sometimes annually.

“You need to make sure you have everything on paper,” Hammond said. “You must have something tangible and concrete in place so that expectations can be managed, and the advocacy program can advance.”

Crouch and Hammond said they don’t do the lobbying for clients, and they don’t help execute the nuts-and-bolts tactics. Instead, their role is to assist leadership in establishing its advocacy goals and strategies.

“We’ll walk you through the process. We’re not going to tell you what your goals should be. Instead, we will help you identify them, potentially rank them and create this prioritization around them. Then we’re going to talk to you about if this is what you want to do, what your resources are, and what you can realistically accomplish in the timeline,” said Hammond.

“If you invest the dollars on the front end and put together your game plan and strategy, you’re going to be prepared to hit an advocacy home run,” said Crouch.

Bob Friedman

Robert "Bob" Friedman is the publisher of Attorney at Law Magazine North Carolina Triangle. He contributes articles and interviews to each issue.

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