In the last post, I covered the first three of the deadly sins of lobby days. To be most effective, you’ll want to avoid all seven, so here are the remainder!
Sin #4 – Member-itis: Never, ever insist that a meeting with a member is more important than a meeting with a staff person. In fact, it’s actually better to meet with the staff person.ã All you’ll probably get with the member is a “grip and grin,” and the vague feeling that your issues weren’t really covered. True, it’s sometimes hard to get advocates to understand that — so tell them the Advocacy Guru said so!ã But if that’s not enough you might consider inviting a member of Congress to your conference so everyone can meet a legislator.ã Also impress upon them the fact that they can much more easily meet with the legislator in the district.
Sin #5 – Inflexibility: This is particularly a problem when it’s combined with high expectations. Too many groups offer a very small meeting window and then are irritated when staff or members are not available in the 12:00pm to 2:00pm time slot they’ve designated for meetings. Try to have an entire day available – and ask participants in your lobby day to bring a good book.
Sin #6 – Overzealousness: If you have multiple people coming from one district or state, do everything you can to coordinate before requesting meetings. In too many cases, each individual will request their own meeting. By the fifth meeting on the same topic, the staff are generally pretty cranky. They will thank you for your consideration of their time if you coordinate well.
Sin #7 – Abandonment: Once your advocates are done in Washington, DC or your state capitol, their advocacy for the year isn’t finished. In fact, it’s just started. In most cases you will need to work with the office on an ongoing basis to help them truly understand your issues and the impact of certain policy actions on their constituents. After your meeting, don’t abandon your elected officials and their staff – embrace them (although not literally. Some of them aren’t huggers).
Lobbyblog wants to thank Stephanie Vance for her special feature and remind evereyone to head on over to her site advocacyguru.com.