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3. Presenting your business case: Audience, focus & method

The analysis is complete. You have all your facts and your core message. The business case basics are prepared. Now you need to get ready to deliver it to key audiences. Just as different audiences have different concerns or areas of emphasis, they also have different ways of interacting with others. This chapter offers advice about ways to approach these key audiences, get on their agendas, and take advantage of opportunities to make your case. These recommendations complete the three-phase architecture of your case. You are now ready to customize your basic message by focusing on selected elements of the case that you know interest or concern specific stakeholders, and by deciding what medium and venue will best enhance the delivery and reception of your message.

Your aim now is to get integration on the agenda of all your audiences-public officials, justice professionals, community organizations, the media, and the public. Right now, many of these groups don't have a concrete understanding about what justice integration means. By presenting your business case, you will educate key members of your community about your integration initiative and how it will improve public safety. This is your opportunity to turn your business case into support-in the form of funding, staffing, advocacy, and energy-from various segments of your community. Be cautious, though, not to over promise-nothing will short-circuit your project faster than not being able to deliver on public commitments.

Understanding the political culture of your community is important here. Your audience analysis should have shown how political decisions are made, who is likely to make or influence them, and how to get access to the decision process. If the prevailing political culture puts a premium on public meetings, then a "knock-out" public presentation may be in order. If a crucial decision maker establishes a position on an issue by studying it herself, then you need time to talk with her. If she relies on staff to gather and assess information, then you need to find the person who plays this role and sell him on the issue.

Remember that your good idea is competing with other good ideas that come from constituencies, elected officials, and decision makers from all political parties. That's why it is important to brief representatives from all political parties to ensure the project gets early bi-partisan support. If certain members of your partnership have more credibility with certain decision makers, then have them carry the message. Word of mouth is an under-appreciated, but often powerful, marketing tool. Encourage your audiences to talk about the integration initiative in the community. That's how a grassroots movement gets started. The informal networks among many justice professionals and community leaders provide fertile ground for building support for integration.

But first, here are a number of tips that will help you get the message out there so it can grow.