Are you imparting information the most effective way on Capitol Hill? Are you using grass-roots efforts effectively in the state capitals? How are you getting your message across effectively in today's technology-savvy world?
These are questions asked and answered along with many others at the recent TRENDS Live Breakfast on Advocacy.
The strong line up included presenters Stephanie Vance, founder, Advocacy Associates; Eric Dell, government affairs SVP, National Automatic Merchandising Association; and Shana Glickfield, partner, Beekeeper Group.
Vance went through The 7 Deadly Sins of Advocacy Days. Among them is training only on policy not process. Unfortunately, many groups leave out some of the most important knowledge – how to have an effective meeting. Your tips in this area should include details on how to deliver a message, making the constituency connection, telling a personal story and, of course, the value of meeting with staff. And teaching them to say “I don’t know, but I’ll get back to you,” is helpful as well.
Dell espoused the benefits of having a strong grass-roots campaign at the state level. He noted that a larger percentage of bills get passed in the state legislatures (as high as 25 percent) than in Congress (which is only 3 percent). He said policies that are shown to be successful at a state level can increase public support for a proposal in other states and the federal level. Examples include same-sex marriage and the legalization of marijuana.
All of these efforts hinge on effective communication. Are you using technology to articulate your message, both to your members, your advocates, and to legislators and the public? Glickfield gave tips on what to do before your fly-in using video and social media. She suggested to create a Facebook page for your fly-in and a specific hashtag. Gather quotes and testimonials, upload photos and promotional videos, member reaction, any contests associated with your event, and also create a LinkedIn group.
Following the presentations was a panel discussion led by moderator David Rehr, CEO, program director, Advocacy in the Global Environment, Transparagov and George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management. Panelists included Nate Smith, government relations director, American Traffic Safety Services Association; and Caron Whitaker, policy VP, League of American Bicyclists. The panel answered many questions, including on giving awards to members of Congress. See the video above.