Here are some tips on how to make your lobby days impactful
How can you get the most out of your lobby day?
Every year groups go to Washington, DC or their state capitol to try to influence the law. At the same time, they’re there with a dozen other groups doing lobbying visits, and it’s even difficult to put nonprofit lobbying days on the calendar. Lobby days can be a tricky business, but we’re here to help.
Conclusion: I.If you want to make the lobby visit count, you need to think ahead and have a real plan.
COVID-19 UPDATE: Especially under the constraints of a pandemic, when we need to be socially distant, much more preparation and plans need to be made to make this vital effort as effective as possible.
Have a real connection: The legislature is supposed to be a civil servant, but for most this usually only applies during a lobbying day if they are lobbying their own constituents (and bonus points if they are also a steadfast voter). It is therefore strongly recommended that you have as many members of your target legislators as possible in your group on the day of your lobby visit. However, you should also balance this with the people who are directly affected by the problem you are advocating or advocating.
COVID-19 UPDATE: With lobby days turning to the virtual arena or some over the phone, you can use that to your advantage to get the target legislature voters even more involved as people don’t have to spend as much time on personal life as they don’t have to travel anywhere physically.
Be prepared: It takes a lot of organization and effort to recruit and schedule a lobby day visit. So don’t just show up. You need to have a plan and know exactly what your messages and topics of conversation are, which can vary by lawmaker. You should also make it very clear to your volunteers what they are asking their lawmakers to do. Are you asking to vote on a bill in a certain way? Is asking to support a law part of the legislation? Or do you want your problem to be included in the budget allocations? Knowing that your legislature’s undivided attention is rare, think a step further and plan what your follow-up steps will be so that you can address them by the end of your visit.
COVID-19 UPDATE: If you plan to hold lobby days virtually, the follow-up and next steps are even more important. Since you don’t have this face-to-face interaction, which is usually more memorable than a video call or a regular phone call, you can repeat your promises and follow-up at the end of the call to make sure those promises are kept by your lawmakers and acted.
Be different: When you talk about being unforgettable, try to come up with different ways that you can make your visit stand out from the hundreds of other visits to the hill. Being creative and understanding what your organization or group superpower is all about can help you stand out from other visits. For example, is your group of volunteers the knowledge of the topic you are campaigning for, or do you have a special connection with lawmakers, or does your group have a unique view of an issue or do you have a data subject? to share with really powerful and memorable stories? You want to play to these differences to make your visits as memorable and impactful as possible. These are all great ways to stand out from the crowd and make a lasting impression.
COVID-19 UPDATE: Again, this is very important when planning a virtual lobby day as you won’t be there in person to show the picture of hundreds of members in shirts in the hallways. However, when you’re virtual, you may also be able to do things that you can’t do in person, such as: For example, share a video or PowerPoint deck on the screen, or invite people to the meeting who might not be able to attend due to their inability to travel and be there in person. Take advantage of virtual space to your advantage, but also understand that technology offers much more opportunity for technical problems. So, plan for troubleshooting and do a dress rehearsal to make sure everything works according to plan.
Be social: So on social media. For in-person lobbying days, you’ll want to include a social media element so your volunteers can keep their networks updated on your efforts and help create a little buzz. Create a hashtag or have them share videos to make it easy to broadcast and shed light on the problem you are working on. Lawmakers and their staff are likely to be following Twitter and Facebook. So use social media to post your visit before, after, and during. Create a quick and easy guide so your volunteers can participate online in real time. For example, they can provide feedback to their lawmakers about their meeting and whether or not they supported your efforts. As an organization, you can use social media to your advantage to encourage communication with members and quickly disseminate information on the day of the day when needed.
COVID-19 UPDATE: A virtual lobby tag allows you to incorporate social media into your efforts to engage your supporters and volunteers from home. Even if they are attending a virtual video meeting, they can raise awareness of your problem by sharing a tweet, reposting on Facebook, or talking about their personal experience of your problem and including your hashtag. Try to find creative ways to show that there is more public support for your cause or problem.
Overlay your actions: To increase your impact on your lobbying day, you should put in some extra effort to get noticed by lawmakers. We’ve seen a number of different levels, such as writing letters to the editor or collecting volunteers for follow-up events in the legislature’s district, or if the budget allows for a paid advertising campaign to be added, all of this can be combined with a lobbying visit.
Follow up: As we said earlier, the key to a successful lobby visit is follow-up. Don’t go through the hassle of hosting a lobby day if you don’t want to follow up and keep up the pressure on lawmakers.
Do you have questions about setting up a strategy for lobby visits and lobby days? Write us a message.