November 01, 2017
Collaboration and Engagement Key to Achieving Our Policy Goals
by Brian Bennett
DSA’s mission is to police, promote and protect its members. That’s how we ensure a landscape in which direct selling companies can operate effectively and ethically while protecting consumers from bad actors. A large part of this mission is the work DSA does with policymakers and regulators at the state and federal level. An increasing, and equally important, part of this work entails using the 24-hour news cycle, blogs and social media to maintain a constant flow of messaging that demonstrates the positive impact of direct selling on everyday life. After all, if we don’t tell our story, someone else will. In most cases, their story won’t have the ending we want.
Direct sellers have the honor and privilege of being in every state, district and hometown across the country. Most people are familiar with the business, whether they know it or not. I have heard countless times how policymakers or their staffs have a family member or close friend involved in direct selling. That sort of familiarity with our business and products is beneficial. However, we must be mindful that there are those out there who only read negative stories and coverage, regardless of accuracy.
Direct sellers must bridge this divide between cultivating relationships with policymakers supportive of direct selling and correcting misunderstandings about the segment among critics. DSA will always represent your interests. And while the association has a successful track record, company involvement in these advocacy efforts will continue to represent a huge piece of the puzzle.
At DSA’s recent Direct Selling Day on Capitol Hill, I was surrounded by amazing stories of people from all over the country involved in direct selling who were perfect industry advocates. Some of these stories included one of a woman overcoming serious health problems with the help of the company’s products to become a successful distributor, another chronicled a third-generation family direct selling business, and another told of a husband and wife who were so inspired by the company’s salesforce that they left their jobs in the company’s corporate office to become distributors.
Beyond representing your interests on a daily basis, the DSA tries to create opportunities to hold these types of conversations. But policymakers ultimately want to hear these stories directly from constituents. How the regulations they enact affect people in their community serve as much better motivators to support policies beneficial to direct selling.
You don’t have to come to Washington, D.C., to engage. Host federal, state and local policymakers at your office, so they gain an understanding of direct selling and the impact it has on their constituents. Lawmakers enjoy demonstrating their involvement in the community and will amplify the positive connections through various public channels. Your salesforce can also be an asset. With 20.5 million people involved in direct selling, many of those could have close, personal connections with policymakers—or even be policymakers, themselves. Knowing who these people are is an important asset in utilizing the influence of your company as well as of the DSA.
DSA will continue to be your voice and represent your interests at all levels of government. However, effective advocacy also requires a collaborative effort with members to ensure the messages conveyed by DSA are reinforced by real-world stories that only your companies can offer. It is through longstanding relationships with policymakers that policies beneficial to direct selling can thrive. We can accomplish more together than separately.
For help on how to get involved, please contact Brian Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brian Bennett is the Senior Director of Public Affairs and Advocacy at the U.S. Direct Selling Association.