Before joining the First Focus team last Thanksgiving, I spent a great five years at Spitfire Strategies, working for the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Georgetown Center for Children and Families on an initiative that gave me the opportunity to partner with state children’s advocacy organizations. We worked together to change the conversation surrounding state policymakers on covering uninsured children through CHIP and Medicaid.

It was an amazing experience, and I learned some great lessons along the way. I learned that deliberately leading with a success story gets your audience past a natural barrier: the concern that change isn’t possible. I learned how showing how solving problems for kids benefits the whole community can help audiences – even individuals who do not have children – feel invested in solving the problem. I learned that showing how the community can look past the differences that separate us and come together to solve important problems is empowering. And I learned that an authentic anecdotal example can be as persuasive as – or sometimes more persuasive than – a peer-reviewed study, when it comes to giving your audience confidence that continued progress is possible. And we’ve continued to apply those lessons at First Focus, in an effort to shape the conversation about children’s health and broader children’s issues.

I recently got the opportunity to meet with Hershel Sarbin, Founder of the Child Advocacy 360 News Network and a veteran communicator with four decades of experience. He shared a children’s issues communications research and recommendations package that validated these best practices.

The Child Advocacy 360 research documents how these and a few other basic principles can effectively be applied to build more powerful communications on a wide range of kids’ issues. For those familiar with Spitfire’s Discovering the Activation Point publication, many of the concepts will seem familiar. This valuable resource, developed by Douglas Gould and Company and the Topos Partnership, offers research-tested validation that easy-to-implement messaging best practices, as part of a smart and disciplined communications strategy, can make a real difference and create a climate supportive of positive change for children.

Not every practitioner will agree with every recommendation. That’s OK – we’ve all had our own experiences. But my experience – and Hershel’s much more extensive track record – shows that these ideas deliver real results.

So I encourage any communications professional who works on children’s issues – and especially advocacy communicators – to take a look at the Child Advocacy 360 research package. Adapt it to your own work, apply it consistently, and you’ll have a better chance to make a bigger difference for kids.