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New Trends for Actually Reaching Elected Officials (Deep Dive 2)

October 4, 2023 @ 10:15 am 11:10 am

How do we move past just social, action alerts, and fly-ins to ensure we’re targeting policymaker audiences from all angles? Join a discussion on how to put policymakers at the center of a circle of influence to surround them with your message.

Andy Dennis, Credit Union National Association
Anna Platt, Public Affairs Council (moderator)
Talia Schmidt, Association of American Medical Colleges
Sarah Weissmann, Save the Children


Learning Objective: What works and what does not work anymore?

  • Creativity, variety, and interaction work and need to be the basis of every strategy/campaign you develop
  • Works: urging members to reach out to MoCs
    • Try providing them with toolkits to make advocating a breeze – it’s a campaign in a box
      • Toolkits are great for advocates to copy/paste posts and utilize pre-made graphics 
      • Utilize hashtags so that people can track and see how well the day of action or campaign is going – generate conversations across the web
  • Works: Asking Mocs to participate – provide low lift actions for them
  • Doesn’t work: Asking for run-of-the-mill requests; pushing your org’s agenda vs. what;s important to their constituents; forgetting to loo[ in the MOC’s comms’ staff
    • Don’t force MOCs to engage – try to show them why they should care 
    • Provide a clear, concise ask that underscores why MoC colleagues should care about bills they’re co-sponsoring 
  • What are you working towards?
    • Identify your goals 
    • Depending on your goal, what may “not work” actually has value
      • Sometimes it’s great to raise awareness, even if MoCs aren’t going to co-sponsor 
    • Trying to do it on your own does not work (it’s at least very difficult to accomplish)
    • Sending hand-written thank you postcards to MoCs actually does work and gets a lot of traction – they mail postcards to in-district offices and their office in DC
      • All mail goes to a facility in NJ and gets digitalized and sent to the MoCs, if it’s handwritten they get a jpeg
      • Be personable – MoCs love that personal touch
      • Phone calls still have a place, but think about if it’s easier for a member to get 10 emails or take a phone call 
  • More targeted considerations
    • Hypertarget your efforts for maximum results 
  • More volunteer engagement
    • People need to hear from their constituents as well, not just lobbyists
    • The more effort a constituent has to put into action, the more leverage it has on Capitol Hill
      • If you’re trying to make legislative change, a postcard does not work 

Learning Objective: What does it mean to put policymakers at the center of a circle of influence?

  • Do it literally
    • Digital targeting literally puts the MoC at the center of attention and your efforts are designed to target them and their immediate networks 
    • Through media, isolate and identify the publications of their district
      • Have pre-written op-eds for advocates to submit to their local news 
  • Echos
    • Generate conversations about your campaign and your position – target members on the media formats they listen to and make it specific (target the airport they fly out of for example)
    • Identify the specific messages that are going to connect with the person or member you’re targeting 
  • Focus on diversifying your audience – find members on both sides of the aisle
    • Frequent touchbases, check in with them regularly
    • Go to their events – make sure you say “nice to see you again” 
  • Team up with MoCs on the issues you are already aligned on 
  • Cultivate a symbiotic relationship 

Learning Objective: How do you find and engage people that the MOC actually listens to? (How to break into that trusted inner circle?)

  • Find the unicorn who’s in the inner circle
    • Anyone can become a unicorn, and many unicorns can identify new unicorns 
    • Don’t use the same person for every issue and every ask because then the ask becomes less meaningful 
  • Spend the money
    • If the issue is that important, hire the former chief, or find the contract lobbyist who already has their ear
      • It’s expensive, but extremely valuable 
  • Find and utilize  your own advocates’ networks 
  • Use influencers – https://www.instagram.com/p/Cty2YBaLcij/
    • Provide the influencer with all of the information you can provide 
    • Take risks and experiment
      • Being open to experimentation opens doors you never knew were there
    • Research who you are asking to be your “face.” Choose someone with far reach so you can piggyback off each other’s following and success.
    • Provide them with a comprehensive plan upfront. Make it as easy for them as possible.
  • Sign up for the local democratic and republican list serves and become a part of the community
  • Don’t bombard lawmakers 

Learning Objective: How do you measure success?

  • Don’t let others define it for you
    • Those not in GA who may evaluate you find the lack of defined KPIs difficult to understand.
    • Break down the steps of policy (hearings, votes, action alerts vs. membership base, # of engaged volunteers, etc.)
  • Tell the story
    • Advocate for yourself 
    • Establish short, medium, and long-term goals and define your legislative vs. your business goals 
    • Fill in the context – have a lot of description for what you’re advocating for and what you’re asking people to do
    • Have an elevator pitch ready to go beforehand 
  • Learn from your experiences
  • Celebrate any and all wins


October 4, 2023
10:15 am – 11:10 am
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