The annual Association TRENDS Compensation Report results have been tallied, and the findings confirm that GR professionals in the nonprofit world are still paid more in the DC area than they are across the country. Within the capital region, the average salary for GR Directors is $163,642 in the District, $156,263 in Maryland, and $151,056 in Virginia. For all other government relations positions in the area, the trends are similar: professionals earn the most in DC, followed by Maryland, with Virginia closing out the list. However, it is worth noting that there were more director-level GR positions in companies based in Virginia than in Maryland organizations.
Just like in high school when we encouraged our friends to “K.I.T.” (“keep in touch”) with us during the summer months when signing yearbooks, organizations should be engaged in keeping in touch with their advocates on a year-round basis. However, there is a strategic element to the types of messages that are sent out to particular advocates…
Advocate leaders will need to communicate with a variety of audiences within the advocate network, including:
- Existing or potential grassroots network members
- Existing or potential grasstops network members
- Existing or potential coalition members
Within these broad categories, an understanding of the following details about advocates will be essential to effective communications.
- State / District of residency or work: In order to facilitate effective advocate actions based on constituency, advocate leaders must be able to match members of the advocate network with their relevant policymakers. This includes, where possible, both residency connections as well as corporate connections.
- Connections to legislators: In addition, the work done in early network development stages to identify “grasstops”-style connections (i.e., that an advocate has a friendship or business relationship with an elected official) will be helpful in better targeting messages to relevant advocates.
- Expertise / anecdotal connections to issues: Advocate leaders should also be able to identify quickly and easily those advocates with a compelling story to tell and/or those with a strong expertise in the issues. This information can be used to identify potential grasstops advocates and/or advocates that can testify in front of committees or help draft responses to regulatory rulemakings.
The effectiveness of the communications can be further improved by segmenting the audience based on the following measures:
- Level of interest / involvement in the advocacy effort: Advocates that are more active may be more willing to receive multiple communications.
- Topics of interest: If an organization manages a wide range of policy issues, it may be appropriate to ask advocates what topics they are most interested in hearing about.
In short, different audiences may receive different types of communications (for example, potential members of the network will receive recruitment communications whereas existing members will not). In addition, certain strategies may work with one type of audience, but not another (for example, grasstops members may be far more receptive to a “pull” approach, such as a social network). Having a strong understanding of the audience will enhance the advocate leader’s success in communicating messages.
For more information or to purchase the Advocacy Handbook click here.
A lot of groups rely heavily on email campaigns as their primary online grassroots strategy. According to congressional research reports and staff accounts, email is an effective means of communicating with congressional offices — assuming you can bust past the Spam filters and your message actually gets read.
Below are some tips for effective email advocacy:
- Omit needless words (Eliminate Repetitive Verbiage)
- Messaging over imaging: Rely on text more than images. Messages with excessive images will often be blocked or marked as a concern.
- Include an unsubscribe link. Messages without one are more likely to be blocked by spam filters.
- To comply with CAN-SPAM standards, include a physical address for your organization
- Identify yourself clearly in the message to prevent recipients from marking you as spam
- Keep your subject line to less than 50 characters or FIVE words. Either way, the message is clear. Keep it short.
- DO NOT USE ALL CAPITAL LETTERS
- Avoid excessive punctuation !!!
- Avoid excessive use of symbols (@#$%^&!)
- Avoid words often found in spam mail such as “free” and “guarantee”
- Ask recipients to add you to their address book
- Be consistent by using the same address
Lobby days are a good way to connect with elected officials and their staff at their offices in Washington, D.C., or at the state capital. Although advocates are ultimately responsible for making those connections, a lot of planning and effort must be undertaken by the organization hosting the lobby day – as well as the advocates!
What are they?
For purposes of this manual, the term “lobby day” is used to refer to any effort to connect advocates with policymakers through meetings, either physically or virtually, on a given day or week. Some organizations might refer to these events as “advocacy days,” “fly-ins” or “Capitol Hill days.” Members of the legislative branch are usually the target audience for these events, although some organizations arrange meetings with regulators and other members of the executive branch, such as staff of the governor’s office.
Why is it useful?
Recent reports suggest that in-person meetings from constituents are one of the most effective ways to influence elected officials.
When should it be used?
Any organization with a core of committed advocates can benefit from coordinating a lobby day event, either individually or in concert with a coalition partner. Lobbying events are most successful, however, when the organization has a specific policy agenda and core ask.
Asking advocates to get involved
Asking advocates to participate in a lobby day effort Viagra generally involves more than simply sending out an action alert and hoping people respond, particularly for those situations where advocates will be investing their own time and money. Options for marketing the event include:
- Conference marketing materials, including brochures, mailers and web site information. Marketing materials should include links to online and hard copy registration materials
- Press releases about the event to industry publications
- Outreach through coalitions
- Articles / columns in the organization’s own publications
- Web 2.0 outreach techniques, such as setting up a Facebook or MySpace page for the event
Key points to consider in developing the materials:
- Outline the value of direct constituent communications in influencing the policymaking process. Advocates need to understand why their direct participation is critical to policy success.
- Be sure that advocates know what they are agreeing to do when registering for the event. Unless advocate leaders are very specific about what the event entails, some advocates may not understand that they will be meeting individually or in small groups with their policymakers.
- Ensure that the registration form captures all relevant information, including the address to be used for matching advocates with policymakers and cell phone numbers.
- Establish an early bird deadline that allows those scheduling the meetings enough time to initiate meeting requests and coordinate schedules.
For more information or to purchase the Advocacy Handbook click here.