Does the state and federal government know how important your business and industry are to the economy or society? They should.
Here’s the thing: whether we like it or not, decisions made by elected officials in Washington DC and the state capital have reverberating effects all the way down the line – including into your community and business. Politicians rarely fully comprehend the bills they vote on.
While it’s easy to get cynical, think there’s nothing we can do, and fume at the politicians for being uninformed, who can blame them? Many elected positions are technically part time jobs that demand full-time hours and politicians have to deal with a bevy of issues for which they are not necessarily prepared. Often times they are relying on overworked staff and self-interested lobbyists to inform them on the issues.
That’s the reality. How are you going to deal with it? How are you going to make sure the politicians hear your voice above the noise?
Have you considered going directly to the politicians to make your case? I’m not talking about a letter writing campaign or a tweet storm (although those things can help too). I’m talking something bigger.
I’m talking about a lobby day.
So, what is a ‘lobby day?’
Also known as an ‘advocacy day,’ a lobby day is most simply defined as an organized visit to a national or state capital to meet with elected officials and policy makers on a specific issue of interest to the group and advocate for that issue. A lobby day can also include a march, demonstration, press conference, and other public facing events designed to increase awareness among the general public through social and traditional media.
So, what are the key benefits of a lobby day?
- Direct access to elected officials.
Let’s face it. Politicians get hundreds or thousands of emails from constituents every week. Meeting in person gives you the chance to build a personal relationship and put a human face on the issue at hand.
- Amplify your voice.
Dozens or hundreds of constituents descending on the legislature sends a powerful message that people care strongly about your issue and that you demand to be heard.
- Media attention.
A crowd tends to draw cameras. This is your chance to get noticed, not only by elected officials, but also by the media and the general public. Just be sure you have a carefully crafted message and talking points to make sure your cause is being portrayed in the best possible light.
Okay, so now you know how beneficial a lobby day can be for your cause. Now, how do you make it happen? Something this big requires a lot of organizing, and you’re going to need to engage a lot of stakeholders.
Here are three key things to consider before you get started.
- Identify your stakeholders and build out your contact list. Who cares about this issue and would lend their support? Who are key influencers who can get others involved? What voices will be especially important for elected officials?
- Come up with concise and clear messaging to convey what it is you’re doing and why it’s important. This is a lot harder than it sounds. There are 1,000 reasons why someone might care about your cause. You need to identify the 3 things people care about and hammer home those points. (Hint: the key message could be different for different audiences. Be sure to keep your audience in mind).
- Identify key tools for organizing. Email, online petition, website, social media – these are all standard tools for organizing a campaign like this. It’s important that these pieces are working together toward common goals (getting petition signatures, driving attendance to lobby day, etc.). A piecemeal approach will make your campaign appear disorganized.
Could your industry benefit from an advocacy day at your state capital or Washington, DC in 2018? Of course it could. And it’s not too late to start that conversation. Contact us today and tell us what’s important to you.