In part one of our series, https://bit.ly/3KJhlYk, we reviewed why broadband access and affordability matters for your community. Now, we’ll explain what you may want to keep in mind when it comes to advocacy in your community and beyond.
First things first, the most successful broadband deployments have an advocate or a team of advocates who get the community on board with the project. Surround yourself with people who believe in broadband, your community and you.
Who’s influential in your community?
Determine who holds the most influence in your community and get them to show up for your cause. Some key influencers may include universities, hospitals, libraries, large employers, religious institutions, and government offices. Each influencer needs broadband for different reasons. Reach out to the organizations that your community listens to the most.
Create a stellar elevator pitch
When approaching key influencers, you’ll need to come up with a concrete elevator speech. Once you have your pitch down pat, you can present it to key influencers who can help make your broadband dream a reality.
Now, let’s look at some reasons why key influencers need broadband:
Why They Need Broadband
To access important documents and information quickly, to train and onboard new employees, to host virtual meetings, to attend webinars, and more.
To power smart classrooms, research labs and libraries and provide campus-wide WiFi.
To maintain electronic medical records (EMRs), use remote monitoring devices and perform telehealth appointments.
To provide livestream worship services, maintain a church website, manage events, and more.
To maintain official records and accept payments for services.
Broadband keeps the wheels of key influencers rolling. Tailor your speech for each audience so that you’ll have a higher chance of success.
Don’t worry about getting the masses on your side right away. Start by simply interacting with one person at a time. After a while, you can scale up to 10, then 100, 1,000 and so on. Encourage key influencers to do the same. You’ll create a ripple effect that could eventually lead to a groundswell of grassroots support.
Do your research
There are plenty of grants to take advantage of. You can drum up some funding by searching for private and public opportunities. Feel free to reach out to your state’s broadband office or the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for guidance. These organizations can help you gain a solid understanding of how broadband would work for your area. Start to explore the option of a community broadband network, which could spur competition, drive down costs and increase speeds in your area. This option may be an avenue for rural communities to close the digital divide.
Put your community on the broadband map
When you sing broadband’s praises, you give your community—especially those who’ve left behind and priced out—a voice. Making sure that key influencers are aware of any potential opportunities and challenges will make the implementation process smoother.
Benefits for the community
Advocating for broadband in your local community takes a bit of legwork but it’s worth it when you see the results. The more people you can get to take up your cause, the more likely it is that broadband will be available in your area. Create a compelling case for why it’s important and customize your message to your audience. Once you do these things, you’ll have a chance to create real change.