There are a lot- and I mean a lot- of polarizing political topics these days. Luckily few lead to any real, immediate physical violence in America but they all impact citizens in one way or another. You as an individual and a citizen are bound to have strong opinions either way. Perhaps you will be compelled to share your opinions, and you should. In America we’re afforded that right. However a private citizen is one thing, and a leader of an association is another. Here are some things to consider before sounding off:
1) Is your name synonymous with your association?
Many business leaders, for example, can’t comment politically without appearing to represent their entire company. Would you run into a similar challenge, or do you keep your personal life separate enough so that nobody will say, “The leader of ABCD says she is against…”
2) What would your members think?
It’s tough to censor yourself at every turn, but if you are speaking up and your association could be connected, make sure the sentiment is shared. Imagine how annoyed you’d be if someone else spoke on your behalf.
3) How does this issue directly impact your members, or does it?
There are a couple schools of thought here: either it doesn’t impact them but it does impact you or it does impact them and impacts you as well. Either way, there’s an excellent case for both speaking up and silence. It’s a tough call.
4) Who’s already saying something?
Remember that no matter how different you may be from the loudest mouthpiece, you’ll likely still be associated with them. Is that a connection you want to make?
5) What does your board think?
We know, running everything by the board is a tedious process but it really is the safest mode. When in doubt, talk it out.
6) Is this political issue part of your association’s mission statement?
If it is, then it’s almost a no-brainer that you’d want to make your associations’ opinion known. In fact, you could proactively contact local news outlets as an expert commentator. Just make sure there's a consensus in the opinion.
Does your association have a social media policy in place already? Perhaps this would be a good opportunity to get some guidelines together. Social media can be an incredible catalyst for change but it can also be a PR nightmare. A great place to start is our social media ebook, which covers all things related to online interaction. Download it here for free!