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Advocacy Angle: Looking for an Advocacy Tool? It’s Right Here 

By Scott Mooneyham, NCLM Director of Public Affairs

Often I write in this space about the goings-on at the General Assembly, and how cities and towns might best position themselves to successfully advocate for an issue. I am taking a detour from that path in this edition to focus on something different – this magazine itself, Southern City.

I was fortunate enough to begin my time working for the League just after Executive Director Paul Meyer decided to move forward with a redesign of Southern City. Moving from the former tabloid design to full-format, color magazine was a smart decision. In my current role, I have tried to build on those changes to make the magazine even better.

You might ask, what does that have to do with advocacy? Well, I am pretty passionate about Southern City, and one of the main reasons for that is because I see it as a great advocacy tool for this organization. In many respects, it is our public face. While the League has several other publications that are emailed to its members and others, Southern City is the publication that is out there in town halls and city halls, in libraries and homes, in the hands of legislators and state officials.

It has a broader public reach, providing the League with a forum that reaches eyes it might not otherwise reach. That being the case, Southern City is and should be inviting, visually and otherwise. To keep that reach, and even expand upon it, you essentially come to a bargain with readers – that they can expect the content to continue to live up to or exceed the standards previously set.

That’s why it is important for us to pursue and write articles that have broad appeal, even as they focus on subjects crucial to member municipalities. So, in the last issue, you saw NCLM Advocacy Communication Associate Ben Brown write a profile of Winston-Salem Council Member Denise Adams, but with an emphasis on universal themes of overcoming struggle and setbacks. In this issue, Ben’s look at America’s decaying infrastructure and a municipality finding responses to that burden (The Road to Better Infrastructure, pp. 32-35) has resonance for all cities and towns, but also is a story that people can relate to when they travel roads in need of repair or enter aging public buildings.

With that broad appeal, Southern City can educate the larger public with which it comes into contact. It can tell readers about the Streetscape investments made by Goldsboro and how the changes in the downtown are promoting business growth. It can inform people about how revived state historic preservation tax credits are bringing more development plans to a mill village in Gastonia.

And while educating, the magazine can also do some advocating. We can make clear that we see a piece of billboard legislation as a harmful measure that could damage the character of a neighborhood or even an entire town that might, for example, be dependent on its picturesque image for tourism (See Sign Here, Sign There, Southern City, March/April 2016.)

With its great look and meaningful content, Southern City is a strong communications platform. We are dedicated to keeping it that way, so if you have ideas for stories, don’t hesitate to contact me at smooneyham@nclm.org.