You know how local, state and federal policies impact the day-to-day life of your program, association or company than any member of Congress, the legislature or city council, so many elected officials need you to help them understand the issues, establish a connection and work collectively to find solutions. When we have the opportunity to talk with your Mayor, Member of Congress, State Representative or State Senator, we have to be sure to tell the stories that are going to make the most sense to them and encourage them to act if that is an appropriate next step.
Ideally, you would establish relationships with lawmakers long before you ever need them. This could be due to your involvement in the community, a pre-existing relationship from school, through your children and their activities, based on meetings where you have invited them to tour your business or their political advocacy or attending fundraisers and other events.
Regardless of when you meet them, you still need to know your story and the messages you wish to convey. Here are 3 tips to telling your story to legislators:
1. Share the Strongest Message
- Share a couple of stories about your program.
- Thank him/her for past and ongoing support.
- Let them know what they can do this year.
You may find yourself meeting with a legislator or staffer who offers that they are connected in someway to your organization or issue. Seize that link and deepen the connection. However, in many other instances, they may not be familiar with your organization or issue. This is your chance to advise the member on the vital issues in your industry.
- Start with the basics of what you do and who you serve; and,
- Why you need their support or leadership.
2. Tell the stories that are relevant, newsworthy and tied to a larger agenda so that they the lawmakers are more likely to seize it as their issue
- Find out as much as you can about your Senator and Representative.
- Quantify the impact your organization and issue has on the economy, in the community and around the industry.
- Localize the issue so that they can see the connection/impact in their district
- If they don’t seem to support your issue, don’t argue with them. Work to just disagree, focus on what you can agree on and move on.
- Use the meeting opportunity to be conversational, and get to know one another. Convey that you can be a friendly resource any time.
- Think about what you want to bring to the meeting: A Fact Sheet on the organization and issue, key contacts, annual report, latest newsletter, media clips, key contacts etc.
3. You are the expert!
Most of the time, legislators want to know the basics. So what may seem basic to you is information they are hearing for the first time.
And just relax. They may be elected officials with ornate offices (at least some of them), they are still people that you elected. They could even live in your neighborhood.
Visit us later this week to find a template to CRAFTING YOUR STORY.