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.
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