This blog is part of a series on how you can integrate your lobbying and advocacy strategies to achieve optimal public affairs outcomes. Download the full e-book here.
When setting up an action center for advocates to take action on the issues they care about, there are a few typical features in that campaign—a button to write your legislator a letter, send them a tweet, or call their office. With these kinds of actions, your advocacy team can measure success by the number of actions they have driven and the number of unique advocates who take action.
With Quorum, however, there are ways you can take your action center to the next level and be more strategic in the way that you get advocates to take action and then use those actions to move the needle on your issue. Key to this advanced strategy is integrating your workflows with your lobbying team and using the information gleaned from advocate actions to better pitch legislators on the issues your organization cares about.
Here are three ways to take your advocacy action center to the next level:
Ever been to a sporting event where you hear lots of people cheering, but can’t understand what they are saying because everyone—the fans, the cheerleaders, the band— are yelling different things at different times? The impact of each individual message is lost by the muddled outcome of trying to listen to everything at once. However, when they are able to get the timing right and spread their cheer in tandem—think the “Skol” chant by the Minnesota Vikings fan base or the “Go Cubs Go” song at Wrigley Field—it makes a significant impact and motivates the team playing.
The same is true in public affairs—when your advocacy professionals and lobbyists are sending different communications to stakeholders at different times, the overarching message can be muddled.
To achieve unison, effective public affairs teams will time their lobbyist meetings on Capitol Hill to happen at the same time the advocacy team sends the digital advocacy messages. That way, lobbyists will be meeting with the legislator and staff, emails will be landing in their inboxes, and phones will be ringing, all sharing the same message from your organization. Some organizations refer to this as a “virtual fly-in”, which not only coordinates messages between lobbying and advocacy but also provides a way to have a lobby day dedicated without the high costs of bringing advocates to Washington or state capitals.
With Quorum Grassroots, you can collect your advocate’s messages over time, then choose to send them all simultaneously in tandem with the day your lobbyists are meeting with a particular office, amplifying the message of both functions.
Not only does this strategy elevate the perceived importance of an issue in a legislators office by sharing it with them from multiple sources, but it also allows your team to highlight the impact of the issue from multiple perspectives—the impact on individual constituents, and on the organization as a whole.
Along with having advocates spread your organization’s message at the same time as your lobbyists are taking meetings with legislators, those lobbyists should be bringing advocate stories to those meetings to personalize the issue for the legislator and their staff.
To achieve this, the advocacy professionals on your public affairs team can run a storybanking campaign by setting up a widget on their website to collect personal experiences from advocates. Then, the lobbyists on the team can bring those stories in-person to the legislator (bonus points for organizations that prepare the stories in professionally printed and designed leave-behinds). These can be referenced in the meeting and left behind as a resource for the legislator to reference back to when the issue comes to the table for a vote.
This is especially effective if you are meeting with a legislator from a district where you might not have a physical footprint in the form of a facility, but your work does impact constituents.
In an interview with Quorum, Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA 4) shared the importance of bringing constituent stories from your grassroots team into a meeting with a legislator.
“When you hear a familiar city or even a familiar name from a particularly active constituent, that helps resonate with the congressman or congresswoman,” McEachin said.
The American Society of Anesthesiologists takes this advice and makes it a part of their advocacy strategy, organizing “Share Your Story” campaigns with Quorum’s Action Center. When advocates reach the action center, they are encouraged to share a story of a time they used their training to save a life. Not only does ASA reference these stories in meetings, but it also uses the stories in advertising campaigns on Capitol Hill during their fly-ins.
In addition to the benefits of having your lobbying and advocacy professionals collaborating in their strategy, having a single software tool can also make your public affairs work more effective. By using an advocacy software tool that also has legislative tracking, you can run conditional campaigns that target different messages at different legislators based on how they have voted or sponsored on the legislation your organization cares about—a “thank or spank” campaign.
Having these two systems in tune is critical to make sure that you are sending the right messages to the right offices. It can make your organization look disorganized if you send hundreds of grassroots actions calling on a legislator to sponsor a particular bill when they have in fact already signed on. However, with an integrated tool like Quorum, you can rest easy that as soon as legislative information is updated, your target legislators will receive the proper message relative to their legislative activity.
To learn more about how you can bring your grassroots and lobbying work into one platform, request a demo of Quorum.