Skip to main content
WP_Query Object ( [query] => Array ( [name] => grassroots-advocacy-crash-course-eric-storey [post_type] => resources [resource-type] => info ) [query_vars] => Array ( [name] => grassroots-advocacy-crash-course-eric-storey [post_type] => resources [resource-type] => info [error] => [m] => [p] => 0 [post_parent] => [subpost] => [subpost_id] => [attachment] => [attachment_id] => 0 [pagename] => [page_id] => 0 [second] => [minute] => [hour] => [day] => 0 [monthnum] => 0 [year] => 0 [w] => 0 [category_name] => [tag] => [cat] => [tag_id] => [author] => [author_name] => [feed] => [tb] => [paged] => 0 [meta_key] => [meta_value] => [preview] => [s] => [sentence] => [title] => [fields] => [menu_order] => [embed] => [category__in] => Array ( ) [category__not_in] => Array ( ) [category__and] => Array ( ) [post__in] => Array ( ) [post__not_in] => Array ( ) [post_name__in] => Array ( ) [tag__in] => Array ( ) [tag__not_in] => Array ( ) [tag__and] => Array ( ) [tag_slug__in] => Array ( ) [tag_slug__and] => Array ( ) [post_parent__in] => Array ( ) [post_parent__not_in] => Array ( ) [author__in] => Array ( ) [author__not_in] => Array ( ) [ignore_sticky_posts] => [suppress_filters] => [cache_results] => 1 [update_post_term_cache] => 1 [lazy_load_term_meta] => 1 [update_post_meta_cache] => 1 [posts_per_page] => 10 [nopaging] => [comments_per_page] => 50 [no_found_rows] => [order] => DESC ) [tax_query] => [meta_query] => WP_Meta_Query Object ( [queries] => Array ( ) [relation] => [meta_table] => [meta_id_column] => [primary_table] => [primary_id_column] => [table_aliases:protected] => Array ( ) [clauses:protected] => Array ( ) [has_or_relation:protected] => ) [date_query] => [queried_object] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 5778 [post_author] => 12 [post_date] => 2021-10-13 21:44:26 [post_date_gmt] => 2021-10-13 21:44:26 [post_content] => Thank you to everyone at Quorum for allowing me to talk to everybody today. 10 years ago when I first moved to Washington, DC, I remember meeting with a US Senator as a pretty big deal for me back then. And I remember having this long conversation and that person not being able to understand the difference between Twitter and Facebook. For the life of him he really tried and just a huge conversation ensued about status updates click through. And everything that goes along with social media and he just could not figure out that these were two completely separate websites. Turns out a couple months ago, I actually had another event with the same Senator and I'll never forget sitting in front of him when he leaned forward and said into my ear, if one more grown adult asks me to do the face swapping filter on Snap, I'm leaving right now. The fact is that digital communications have changed forever. People that have never sent anything on a social media or anything like that are now conducting business meetings across the country and using things like Zoom and Skype to do things they never thought possible. The digital Pandora's box has completely opened and we are never going back to normal. So I thought I would take some time today and talk about a crash course, relook at grassroots advocacy and really adjusting how we're going to change things and the new normal. Very quickly, a little bit about myself. Like Patrick said my name is Eric Storey. I'm the Director of Grassroots and Digital Advocacy at the American Bar Association. But I've worked for associations, nonprofits, at agencies, and sort of everything in between. I've got educations from Texas A& M and Harvard universities. I've actually started my own nonprofit. I co-founded the Grassroots Professional Network. With just over three years, we were able to grow to about 26,000 members operating in about three countries and had offices in Washington, DC and Brussels. But honestly, all of that kind of has to get thrown out the window at this point because we have an entirely new set of tools and an entirely new environment that we're working in. So today I would like to talk a little bit about where Congress was and where they are now, how you can use your grassroots in this new normal, how you can really leverage social media because now public pressure is more important than ever, And how you can re-look at your arsenal of tools and how you can really do that in a budget. So before we jump into looking at how things are now, I think it will be helpful if we look at how things were back then. And for that, one of my favorite things to do is go to the Congressional Management Foundation study that I'm sure a lot of us are very familiar with. It came out, I believe in about 2015 and really gave us a good look at what moves the needle in Congress. You can see by this slide in-person visits from constituents really was the top of the top. But the third-best option you could do was a unique email. That's incredibly powerful for your advocates across the country. But of course, in this new normal, in the last year and a half, our digital communications have skyrocketed. I actually did a little informal survey of about 20 staffers that I'm familiar with. And each of them has said their email load has not doubled, has not tripled, but more like quadrupled over the last year and a half. Things are getting out of control. People are handling thousands of emails a day, and those are just the ones they have to get back. So it's incredibly difficult for us to take this sort of new normal and figure out how to use our old tools again, to really move the needle in Congress and actually get our issues noticed. So I think when one of the best things that we can do is just tell ourselves to things will never be the same. We need to understand that this new environment brings new processes, new thought processes, new ways that we can engage that we've never thought possible before. But of course, it's still those same tools that we were using before. So how do we adjust these things? We have to keep some things in mind. Things like our brain chemistry is not the same as it was back when we were still going to the office in 2019. Your dopamine levels, cortisol levels, your serotonin levels are all completely different than when you were in the office. The fact of the matter is our screen time has also increased exponentially. A lot of people are reporting about a hundred percent increase since the pandemic started in their screen usage. And the fact that one instance alone can increase our dopamine levels by tenfold changes the way that we view the world. I'll refer to dopamine a few times throughout this discussion. And that's because the dopamine chemical is actually what we call our friendly chemical. That's what we feel whenever we hug somebody, whenever we feel close to somebody. It's the same chemical that gets released whenever you feel affection towards someone. That's what that reciprocity feeling is that we use with our grassroots advocates all the time and then we use with Congress to actually get things done. And that has skyrocketed with the use of social media lately. Everybody is addicted to dopamine levels. We all are checking our phones. You're probably looking at two other screens right now. These things change the way that we view the world and it changes the way we take action on these things. So unfortunately we have to use some of the tools that a lot of people have put a bad name towards in a very moral and very mature way, just to understand how we can move the needle. So taking another look at the same slide, a few things stand out. We still know that emails are still the most influential way that people can communicate with their elected officials with the least amount of effort. We can't forget that. And we can use that as an initial spark to S to get people to start a relationship with their elected officials, or even to get them in our grassroots funnel. Face-to-face interactions, no longer have to be in. In-district meetings are still incredibly relevant, but of course, Zoom, Skype are all very commonly used on the Hill now. And the timing of your issue has never mattered more, being able to pull in other people and other organizations to help your cause is really a great way that you can get the ball rolling on more fronts than just one. But you have to make sure you're aligned on these things and you have to make sure that your issue is what's getting talked about on the Hill. The fact is this Congress is not the most productive that we've ever had. And to get our issues mapped out in the way that we want to see them accomplished, it's just not going to happen in the same ways that we've done it before. So we need to combine our efforts and we need to trade up the chain. We need to start small and continue those relationships as they get bigger. We need to start action, small show people, how they can get involved in just very quick, easy ways, and then get them more and more involved as we go. So taking another look at some of the tools that we have in hand, we noticed that a lot of the assets that we used to hand in person that sort of probably went in the trash. The second we went out the door are now all getting sent digitally. They're all, probably not even scrolling through those pages as we're talking. So a lot of these assets need to be rethought a little bit. We need to put these things on public forums. Social media is key for this as we can bring in the entire public discourse and whatever. I'm not saying don't come up with any fact sheets or assets or any infographics like that, but make them social friendly. We have to understand how Congress is consuming content. So the best way we can completely understand that is by looking at their internet usage. Our websites are no longer just websites. Our websites are metric gathering hubs. We need to have stuff on there that will garner clicks to let us know what our members are thinking about for these different things. And more importantly, now more than ever is the time for you to get a legislator-facing webpage. Maybe something behind a firewall that you can start measuring their engagement with some of these issues. You can put some of your assets and your values forward in a way that maybe you hadn't done before because you're usually relying on in-person contact for these things. But digital communications have come along in a way that has made things a little bit easier and a little bit harder all at the same time. Again, it really helps for us to take a step back and look at how Congress is actually consuming this content. You can see that news publications and websites are their best and easiest way to get them up to speed. They like seeing themselves in the public. They like seeing themselves in the news. They liked getting those Google alerts whenever they're mentioned. The newsletters that we used to send out to staffers with great assets or great content or great opportunities are now not even an option for some of these offices. But these are still easy ways that we can get some people involved and start trading up the chain. I'd like to invite you to look at the bottom, right of this slide for the newsletters to influence others. It's absolutely minuscule at this point. And when National Journal actually held this survey that was in a time where staffers were still signing up for newsletters. It was a way for them to really get up to speed quickly. But now, unfortunately, they are doing so much work. They're going out and actively looking for information. So we can't wait for them to passively come across this stuff. So the best way we can really do that is by leveraging some of our digital activist advocacy tools. These things are the same tools that we've used over and over again, emails, phone calls, posts on social media, and petitions. But we need to adjust the way that we do these things anymore. We have to have a tent pole strategy where you have an action. You have time to rest. You have an action, you have a time of rest. So it's important for you to get what's called drip campaigns going. Drip campaigns are where you can start an interaction either with a member or that member can start interaction with a member of Congress. And it's a very easy thing to do. Form emails are a good way to do this. Forwarding newsletters or assets are a good way to do this, but of course, we want to get them to steadily raise higher than that. We want to get them to have that personal relationship, because at this point, just sending an email is just sending a number to a Monday meeting. So we need to give our people something to do. We need to make them active advocates in this discussion. The way we do that at the American Bar Association can be copied throughout this entire town throughout this entire industry. But digital campaigns are a main hub of this. And going back to what I was saying earlier, the main thing we can do to bolster these campaigns is now adding different facets to them. Start with an email. Follow up with social media posts, tagging a member of Congress asking if they had received that email. Have your members call with a phone call asking if they had seen that tweet, asking if they had seen that email, and then get your members to go to an in-district meeting or have a Zoom conference with one of those staffers asking if they had seen everything before. We need to combine efforts and we need to work together with our advocates and with other organizations to do the things that we normally did in a much more organized fashion. Of course, having our fly-ins is still a great way that we can coalesce around issues. We can still talk to all of our advocates about what matters to our industries, our professions. And maybe we add a little bit more training to these things now. Maybe we add a little bit more digital training to these things now. Some of you might not have some of the complications I have working with the American Bar Association, but lawyers are not typically the most well adept to technology. They're usually not the most adjusted to some of the new tools that we have. One thing that we can really do is try to get them to understand some of these things in different formats than we've done before. I can see, I have a question here. What are the best strategies to get people interested and involved in your advocacy campaigns? I'm actually going to address that a little bit later, but the best thing you can do is make it personal. If I'm talking to you specifically, you want me to talk about the thing that you talked about? So go and see what they're talking about and make sure and frame it from that. If your member of Congress or your elected official that you're trying to influence in some way or the other is looking at immigration or looking at infrastructure in a certain way you want to go to their websites. You want to go to their social media and start with their content, send it to them and ask them a question, get them to clarify things to you. And now all of a sudden they're bought in. Give them some opportunities to talk to your members through some of these fly-ins. We actually at the ABA just had a, what we call the Student Debt Week of Action, where we got about 40 different organizations across the political spectrum ranging from everything from doctors, nurses, first responders to lawyers. And we really advocated on the public service loan forgiveness program. That was something that was really a mess and Congress was really having a hard time getting together. So we actually had an ABA day, a week that we stretched out, including as many other organizations as possible, trying to get as many things in the media as possible, and tried to move the needle in ways that we had never really thought of before. So that was a way that we could get them involved and actually invite them on. We were able to get Chuck Schumer. We were able to get John Cornyn and some of the other more prominent senators and representatives to even send videos to us. Now, we always had elected officials come and speak to us at some of our fly-in events or even try to give them awards or something like that to get them bought in. Having them film a one to five-minute video is such a small ask, especially when you provide those talking points. And especially when you've identified that those are the individuals that are uniquely interested in that subject. For instance, Senator Schumer has pressured President Biden pretty severely in the media to forgive a certain amount of student loan debts. He's really pushing for $50k. That's quite a bit. But he is in that realm and he's willing to negotiate on these things. So we brought him to the table to talk, not only about that but also about the importance of the PSLF program. So what is normally a huge Herculean task to get Chuck Schumer to come down to your fly-in is now as easy to shoot off a couple of emails and talking points, and then posting that video to your forum, or to your social media channels. Those are just a couple of ways. Like I said, I'll go ahead and get through a few later on. But there's just a ton of different ways that we need to rethink the way that we're interacting with these members of Congress in a more serial fashion. Don't just let it be about the one thing that they're talking about, pull from other things and extract what you need to extract and figure out how they fit into your picture. So another thing that you can do for this and to really get them involved is to get them involved on social media. Social media has always been a little bit of a tongue-in-cheek type platform for this town. People love to use it in certain ways and forget to use it in the ways that it's actually intended all of the time. Everybody always forgets that Twitter was originally created as a social media text messaging app. So for some reason, people just use Twitter to shout out into the void and only use Facebook to talk to their members or LinkedIn to have long-form articles. Where these things were originally designed to have instant communication. How do you do that? So the Congressional Management Foundation asked every congressional office, how many posts it would take to actually get them to take notice of. And actually, the results are really surprising to me 34% over a third of Congress actually says one to 10 posts is enough to get their attention on these things. That's incredibly easy to do. And even if it's just you and your colleagues' personal accounts, but getting your advocates involved, it can only lead to exponential growth in this area. Once more, almost 80% said one to 30 posts was enough to get them. That's 80% of Congress talking about social media and talking about the topics on social media. This has completely changed. This study was actually taken before the pandemic. And unfortunately, I wasn't really able to find something very reliable that I could point to post-pandemic to look at these things, but we all have to understand that the saturation level for these staffers and for these members of Congress is off the charts. They're scrolling through social media only to catch up, and they're just dealing with the alerts that they have to. So it's helpful to keep these things in mind while you plan out your actions, while you try to figure out your serial tent-pole strategy. You also need to remember that social media is only a conduit. That social media is the perfect place for you to get assets out and to get comments on your assets. Social media is also the perfect place to address questions that maybe don't look favorably for you. For instance, at the American Bar Association, we accredit law schools. So it seems very weird for people when they hear that we're advocating for student loan debt relief in some way or the other, they say can't you tell those colleges to charge less for these things. That's actually a violation of antitrust laws. There's no way anybody can tell you how to charge your business or your assets. So we have very clear lines in the legal profession about what we can address on this issue and what we can't. So it's a very clear thing that we need to address to a lot of people. I'm sure even some of these people on these calls that even understand this information are still going. Yeah, but can't you do something? So again, that's where the conversation gets louder. That's where a lot of people start piling in and that's where you really want to start turning to your leaders. Your leaders are people that garner a lot of followers, a lot of attention, and really need to have a stake in your strategy. Now, these can be internal leaders. These can be external leaders. We've really tried to harness some social media influencers with the ABA and some of my other organizations. Social media influencers, or people that can send out huge messages to huge audiences in very small formats. So reaching out to these individuals and getting them to comment on these things is a way for you to also hold the conversation on this stuff. Remember, you set the tone for these discussions, not the mob. So whenever anything starts going a little haywire invite those things and make it look like you are the one that's leading this conversation and the best people to do that right now is Facebook. If you're in Washington DC, I'm sure you've seen some of these Facebook ads that say they're in favor of government regulations. People would sit there and go, why in the world are they for that? They're also not saying what regulations they're for. They're taking that narrative and they're putting it in their ballpark and they're going to control this conversation moving forward. You can do that the exact same way by going. That's a very good comment. I'm going to invite our ABA president to comment on this since he knows a little bit more about this than I do, and then get your president to then comment back to your tweets with whatever thing you want, that message to be. Now you've recaptured that narrative and you're guiding it in a different way. They'll still sling arrows at you, but that's just people getting more engaged, more involved, and those are only your advocates you haven't won over. Another thing to keep in mind is how to get your message to stand out from the crowd. And this is something that a lot of us have seen before too. And this is absolutely information from before the pandemic, but this is extremely relevant because the things members of Congress wanted before the pandemic are still the things that they want now. And it's only your job to clearly communicate your value to these numbers a lot better. And the best way to do some of these things is by proving your worth by saving time. The best way we can use currency is either social currency, monetary currency, or time. Time is the biggest asset that any of these staffers or these members of Congress do not have enough of. So if we can help them with some of this stuff, they will come back to you till the day you resign. So the number one thing you can provide is information about the impact the bill would have on the district and the state, get this directly relatable to them. If you can talk about exactly what's going on in their neighborhood, they will absolutely perk up. Go ahead and use some slang or use some common reference points. If these are here, I can tell you when I was talking with Senator Cornyn, Whataburger came up pretty consistently. Anytime we talked to some of the members of Congress from California In and Out is always a topic of conversation. But it's really funny that this is something that we all know but the most surprising fact is that nobody does it. This green line that you'll see that just appeared on the 91% circle is the 9% that actually includes this information in every message that goes to the Hill. That means even though everybody in this town knows that this is what actually moves the needle, nobody's doing it. These are the things that take time, but given the right circumstance, you can really shine using these tools. Another way you can really make this personal to your members of Congress and to your members is to go state when federal can't states are really moving the needle. Right now. Just look at what's going on in Texas. Look at what's going on in Florida. Look at what's going on in California. States are taking action and people seem to prefer it that way and a large majority of these states. So make sure and have constant communication with your either state chapters or any type of small group that you can find in these geographical regions. If you don't have those, no problem. That's where you can start building a grassroots hierarchy where you can make that yourself. And that is something that people should really already be doing. You probably refer to them as your grasstops or your key contacts or something like that, but now more than ever, as I said, it's the time to get organized. So I would encourage you to actually come up with a grassroots hierarchy for your organization. Get people to actually apply for these positions so that they've bought in. Have only a select few that is able to get to that top rank. And only those few are the ones that can talk directly to some members of the team. Make it exclusive so that it's something that they want to do. Give them the language to use on LinkedIn. And everybody wants to blast things on social media right now, from their vacations to their progress at their jobs. So if you give them something that they can put on their resume that's music to their ears. So go ahead and give them the language to that. You can also give them different rewards that either cost money or don't cost money. I've received some really interesting collateral over the last year and a half, and a lot of them are focused on storytelling. Now, these are things that you can send out using just a small budget. You can get pamphlets made up that you stick different cards or pens or different chotchkies into these things that are relevant to your members but that don't have to cost a lot. Digital downloads or things that you can do. Everybody loves calendars. Everybody loves backgrounds. Everybody loves things that are relevant to them. So put that behind a firewall and make it so that they can't access that until they send three letters. It will be surprising how quickly they start trading up the chain. And all of a sudden, after sending those three letters, they're really much more adept to picking up the phone and making a phone call or going to that district office. So really try to firm up this hierarchy and try to get your leadership to get involved with this too. Could be as simple as having them include themselves on some calls, but really there are ways that you can go beyond that. At your next annual meeting, have a VIP bar that's over in the corner that's roped off that only your members that have done X amount of things can get to. Have pins or badges that only your officers can get past that red rope. It doesn't cost your organization anymore. You are going to have that bar in the room anyway, just put it in a corner and make it special for them. Have a special time with your leadership. I am fortunate enough to have some leaders that are willing to spend 10 to 15 minutes of alone time with these high-performing advocates. 15 minutes of them shaking a hand with the president of the ABA is actually pretty intriguing for a lot of them. So try to think of ways that you can use exclusivity while using access to reward these sensors in the brain that have unfortunately been so inundated with dopamine lately, that the saturation level has gotten to a point where sometimes it doesn't seem like any of these things are worth it. So let's give them that reciprocity. Let's show them that this does make a difference. Let's get them some real things that they can have that are tangible, that show them that they made a difference in Washington. I referenced a little earlier about some of these pieces of collateral that I've gotten that are focusing on storytelling. And it's really interesting how a lot of these people are using some of these tools. And really what they're doing is they're looking at ways of targeting me of how I look in the overall picture and how they can keep me in the wheel. I had that I made, I am obviously somebody that they find, they want my business, or they want my attention. So they'll send me some of this collateral that tells a story in five parts. And it's funny how you start noticing some of these formulas after you've seen these over and over again, and they all use the Pixar formula. And what Pixar did is when they were first getting started, they actually put some cognitive research together to figure out how many points in a story are actually the most relevant to bring people. And by points in the story. Points of conflict, points of victory, things like that. And it turns out five points of contact are the key. You want to introduce the subject. You want to introduce the problem. You want to have a climax. You want to see the result of it, and you want to have a happy ending. You want to give these people, these storylines that those same sensors in their brain are activated, not so much on dopamine, but more on serotonin. Serotonin is more of the empathetic gene. That's the thing that actually gets people to take action. And that's really important because what's happening right now is an inundation of dopamine to get people to take action and not serotonin. Dopamine is usually released whenever either something is painful, something is pleasurable, or we've accomplished something. So what people have done to hijack that is inundated with fear, inundated with a sense that we need to take action. We see this all the time and shopping platforms like Amazon or Groupon or anything like that with simple little key things like having a timer of how long something will stay in your cart. All of a sudden you get a rush of dopamine and you sit there. Oh, no, there are consequences if I don't do this right now, so I need to act now. So what you can do is use some of those same things, but just flip it just a little bit and use that different chemical, get them to be invested in your story so that they want to help, so that they feel empathetic to your issues and not scared that if they don't take action, something bad will happen. That's how you get long time advocates instead of one-off clicks. So what they've done is they've sent me collateral where they've given me a story of who they are, what problem they've overcome, why they're the key to the industry or to the problem, how they've addressed it specifically and how we can work together in the future to keep that success moving forward. A lot of people go, okay, that's fine. That's pretty normal. Why in the world did you bring up Pixar? It's because after one of my colleagues over ahead Bloomberg told me about this formula. He actually told me the first movie that it was used on and it crushed my spirit. The Lion King was the first time this formula was used and they have used it ever since. Of course, this was only something that was formalized recently. And now Pixar uses this format in just about any short story or a long-form long format video that they released now. But this has been used time and time again. Cliff Johnson always likes to go and talk about how Harry Potter and star wars were the exact same storyline. So you use that storyline. But your member is the hero. Put that member of Congress as the one that can actually take action and do something and then give them a picture of what it's going to look like when that success happens. When you're trying to come up with the strategy and trying to come up with some of these points of how you're going to address these things, it's really important to really have a roadmap that gets you in an organized fashion from point a to point. So whenever we are looking at some of these things we really want to try to figure out how we can address some of these issues that the members of Congress are trying to discuss in a way that's relevant in a way that matters. I'm being told that we're at the 35-minute mark. So I'm going to go ahead and jump through a few of these a little bit quickly, but really the thing I want to get across to you is that these are all things that you can do that you've done before in new ways and in ways that you can combine efforts. There are also ways that you can do this on a budget and the best way to do that is, like I said earlier, getting other people involved, getting other organizations involved, trying to figure out how you can multiply efforts on these things, how you can multiply resources. Another way you can do that is by using some great digital tools to keep your advocates completely involved, use things, to keep people engaged like Canva. It's funny, these social media platforms always say, now that organic search is dead. That unless you were using paid ads for these things, you're never going to get your content to the right people, but there is still a difference in that organic outreach in the algorithm. I, as I'm sure, some of you are aware if you post a post on Facebook, it doesn't go to every member and it goes to about 8% of your members. Once it starts getting clicks and likes, it can jump up to about 11%. But if you add an image to that, it automatically goes to about 12 to 15% of your followers. If you add a link or a video, that jumps up to about 23% of your followers. So having things like images from Canva which is just a free software, it's like a very easy-to-use Photoshop to just add these components to your posts does go along the way. Another great thing you can use if you want to actually take it another step is a website called Envato. And this is the platform that major media outlets like CNN, Fox News, all get their graphic packages. Every swipe that you see, every image that you add as a template that they took out this website, and just simply edited around a little bit. So you can do the exact same thing and that's about $17 a month. And then you can, all of a sudden have some of the most well-produced podcasts and video blogs on your website and on your social media channels that they've ever seen. It's how we've seen a lot of the rise of some of these alt-media outlets Newsmax or OANN or some of these things that really started off with a shoestring budget a couple of years ago. With that, I will go ahead and go to questions for some of these things. I see. We have one right here that says what are your thoughts on using lower-level gamification rewards, like arbitrary points in comparison to the social exclusivity approach? You mentioned a couple of times can points be at all encouraging? So points actually are one of those things that release serotonin and dopamine your oxytocin levels actually go up too, which is really interesting because a lot of things happen there. The pleasure center of your brain starts going crazy. When you see points it's aweird reaction we get when we see a green checkmark. For some reason, our brain automatically associates that with getting things done with a reward that we have done something good, and any time we do something good, we like that. And we want to do it again. We're more apt to want to reach out and spend our time on those things again. So if you can do some things like brand some points. Go ahead and do that. Quorum has a great gamification center. That is something that you can set up very easily that I would highly recommend that you do. And you can either set those things up to get to where points can be redeemed, or they can reach certain levels in different ways, but either way, it keeps them involved and it gives them a piece of ownership. It also gives you chances to reach out and say, Hey, you're only 20 points away from getting that new scarf for you're only 20 points away from getting 50% off our annual meeting. Can you send this letter to your member of Congress? And that way, when we see you in a couple of months at annual, it'll be that much less expensive. So feel free to use some of these things that to be honest, we've labeled them as clickbait, but change them just a little bit so that they're used in a more moral way, not so much manipulation as much as just understanding how humans work and getting that people aren't getting that same reciprocity that we were getting a year and a half ago and that there's nothing wrong with addressing. I just making things a little bit more personal. Another question I see here is what tools do you use for connecting members with Congress? So Quorum of course is our main tool. We love Quorum and have used that for years, actually. Probably it's saying too much now. But we re-upped our contract with Quorum because we find them to be so valuable. We want to keep them going in the future. But there are some other great resources that you can use to just reach out for some of these congressional outreaches that maybe not so direct that Quorum is. For that, you can look at Leadership Connect. You can reach out to Know Who or Columbia books. But they're basically just resources where you can go and get contact information that they can go ahead and start reaching out to these members for. Of course, Quorum has contracts with the Hill so that they can actually make sure that your emails are guaranteed to get through congressional firewalls and some of these filters and things like that some of the other ones don't, but that doesn't mean that there aren't channels to do that. And of course, the thing that I really want to mention more than anything else and I am so sorry to a couple of my friends that have asked me not to say this, but social media is the best way to interact with staffers. Staffers are on social frankly too much. And they like that interaction. And this is a group of people that likes networking, that likes feeling connected. So feel free to reach out to them. Don't leave them out just because you want to reach out to the member of Congress and you want to get that handle to be responded back to. Figure out who those staffers are. So things like Know Who, Leadership Connect, and Quorum, of course. You can go on there and see these staffers figuring out who they are and follow them. A lot of them are pretty interesting to follow, to be totally honest. A lot of chiefs of staff will actually be a little bit more engaged than you think. Another great way that you could do some of this stuff is by scheduling it out, using tools like Hootsuite or Tweet Deck, things to take care of all of your more mundane posts, the ones that you can just schedule on a Sunday and just set it and forget it. So that way you free up a whole day to actually just interact on social. Staffers are always on LinkedIn. They're probably trying to find jobs, some of the younger ones after their terms end here, and they're going to want to have those networks and capabilities up. Go ahead and reach out to them. We got it approved to have what's called continuing legal education, CLE credits, which is what all legal professionals have to get. We were able to get that free to anybody that works for certain government entities, certain nonprofits, or certain financial situations so that we're able to give those as resources to some of these staffers up on the Hill that really wants to have a career in the legal profession. So figure out what your niche is that they're actually interested in and try to set it up in a way that you can sit there and communicate with them and really show your value in some of these things. Another question I'm getting is what campaign types in Quorum are the best for the entry-level. Great question. Great question. So on these, you really want to look at sort of constant benefit rewards on these things. How much time are these people actually spending sending these messages and phone calls are great except they're a lot more difficult to do and a lot more difficult to manage and you don't get the metrics like you do for sending an email or posting on social media. So those are two ways that you can really get people very quickly and easily engaged and in different formats. What we try to do is really try to incorporate multiple campaigns. So if somebody will go on and send a letter, a form letter then we will immediately thank them and say since you've sent that letter, please make it public. And here's a campaign that you can post to Twitter. That actually includes your members of Congress has tags on that. Sometimes they use that sometimes they don't if they do use that. And then we can wait about two or three weeks and send them another email and say, oh my gosh, what you did mattered so much. We need you to do one more thing. Would you mind doing this and just sending it up for that next level or doing just a little bit more and saying this letter meant so much and I hope you've got that response. I've got mine here. Would you mind getting five of your colleagues to do that? So then they can expand the network a little bit. Another great tool you could use is something like a sign-on letter or a petition to get other organizations involved. We have red tape beyond belief for the legal profession. I cannot tell you how much my team loves to dive into the weeds. So for us to be able to get coalition partners is actually not an option for us. We don't join coalitions. But what we can do is join on partner sign-on letters. It's something very easy. It takes down the approval level that needs to go through the system for most organizations. And so those are things that you can either do to get other organizations or other big entities involved. So I would say a good, easy first entry-level campaigns for individuals would be more like emails and social media posts on Quorum. And then jumping up from that to larger organizations. I would say things like petitions and sign-on letters that organizations sign and not individuals. [post_title] => Grassroots Advocacy Crash Course with the American Bar Association's Eric Storey [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => grassroots-advocacy-crash-course-eric-storey [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-10-14 12:35:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-10-14 12:35:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.quorum.us/?post_type=resources&p=5778 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => resources [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [queried_object_id] => 5778 [request] => SELECT wp_posts.* FROM wp_posts WHERE 1=1 AND wp_posts.post_name = 'grassroots-advocacy-crash-course-eric-storey' AND wp_posts.post_type = 'resources' ORDER BY wp_posts.post_date DESC [posts] => Array ( [0] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 5778 [post_author] => 12 [post_date] => 2021-10-13 21:44:26 [post_date_gmt] => 2021-10-13 21:44:26 [post_content] => Thank you to everyone at Quorum for allowing me to talk to everybody today. 10 years ago when I first moved to Washington, DC, I remember meeting with a US Senator as a pretty big deal for me back then. And I remember having this long conversation and that person not being able to understand the difference between Twitter and Facebook. For the life of him he really tried and just a huge conversation ensued about status updates click through. And everything that goes along with social media and he just could not figure out that these were two completely separate websites. Turns out a couple months ago, I actually had another event with the same Senator and I'll never forget sitting in front of him when he leaned forward and said into my ear, if one more grown adult asks me to do the face swapping filter on Snap, I'm leaving right now. The fact is that digital communications have changed forever. People that have never sent anything on a social media or anything like that are now conducting business meetings across the country and using things like Zoom and Skype to do things they never thought possible. The digital Pandora's box has completely opened and we are never going back to normal. So I thought I would take some time today and talk about a crash course, relook at grassroots advocacy and really adjusting how we're going to change things and the new normal. Very quickly, a little bit about myself. Like Patrick said my name is Eric Storey. I'm the Director of Grassroots and Digital Advocacy at the American Bar Association. But I've worked for associations, nonprofits, at agencies, and sort of everything in between. I've got educations from Texas A& M and Harvard universities. I've actually started my own nonprofit. I co-founded the Grassroots Professional Network. With just over three years, we were able to grow to about 26,000 members operating in about three countries and had offices in Washington, DC and Brussels. But honestly, all of that kind of has to get thrown out the window at this point because we have an entirely new set of tools and an entirely new environment that we're working in. So today I would like to talk a little bit about where Congress was and where they are now, how you can use your grassroots in this new normal, how you can really leverage social media because now public pressure is more important than ever, And how you can re-look at your arsenal of tools and how you can really do that in a budget. So before we jump into looking at how things are now, I think it will be helpful if we look at how things were back then. And for that, one of my favorite things to do is go to the Congressional Management Foundation study that I'm sure a lot of us are very familiar with. It came out, I believe in about 2015 and really gave us a good look at what moves the needle in Congress. You can see by this slide in-person visits from constituents really was the top of the top. But the third-best option you could do was a unique email. That's incredibly powerful for your advocates across the country. But of course, in this new normal, in the last year and a half, our digital communications have skyrocketed. I actually did a little informal survey of about 20 staffers that I'm familiar with. And each of them has said their email load has not doubled, has not tripled, but more like quadrupled over the last year and a half. Things are getting out of control. People are handling thousands of emails a day, and those are just the ones they have to get back. So it's incredibly difficult for us to take this sort of new normal and figure out how to use our old tools again, to really move the needle in Congress and actually get our issues noticed. So I think when one of the best things that we can do is just tell ourselves to things will never be the same. We need to understand that this new environment brings new processes, new thought processes, new ways that we can engage that we've never thought possible before. But of course, it's still those same tools that we were using before. So how do we adjust these things? We have to keep some things in mind. Things like our brain chemistry is not the same as it was back when we were still going to the office in 2019. Your dopamine levels, cortisol levels, your serotonin levels are all completely different than when you were in the office. The fact of the matter is our screen time has also increased exponentially. A lot of people are reporting about a hundred percent increase since the pandemic started in their screen usage. And the fact that one instance alone can increase our dopamine levels by tenfold changes the way that we view the world. I'll refer to dopamine a few times throughout this discussion. And that's because the dopamine chemical is actually what we call our friendly chemical. That's what we feel whenever we hug somebody, whenever we feel close to somebody. It's the same chemical that gets released whenever you feel affection towards someone. That's what that reciprocity feeling is that we use with our grassroots advocates all the time and then we use with Congress to actually get things done. And that has skyrocketed with the use of social media lately. Everybody is addicted to dopamine levels. We all are checking our phones. You're probably looking at two other screens right now. These things change the way that we view the world and it changes the way we take action on these things. So unfortunately we have to use some of the tools that a lot of people have put a bad name towards in a very moral and very mature way, just to understand how we can move the needle. So taking another look at the same slide, a few things stand out. We still know that emails are still the most influential way that people can communicate with their elected officials with the least amount of effort. We can't forget that. And we can use that as an initial spark to S to get people to start a relationship with their elected officials, or even to get them in our grassroots funnel. Face-to-face interactions, no longer have to be in. In-district meetings are still incredibly relevant, but of course, Zoom, Skype are all very commonly used on the Hill now. And the timing of your issue has never mattered more, being able to pull in other people and other organizations to help your cause is really a great way that you can get the ball rolling on more fronts than just one. But you have to make sure you're aligned on these things and you have to make sure that your issue is what's getting talked about on the Hill. The fact is this Congress is not the most productive that we've ever had. And to get our issues mapped out in the way that we want to see them accomplished, it's just not going to happen in the same ways that we've done it before. So we need to combine our efforts and we need to trade up the chain. We need to start small and continue those relationships as they get bigger. We need to start action, small show people, how they can get involved in just very quick, easy ways, and then get them more and more involved as we go. So taking another look at some of the tools that we have in hand, we noticed that a lot of the assets that we used to hand in person that sort of probably went in the trash. The second we went out the door are now all getting sent digitally. They're all, probably not even scrolling through those pages as we're talking. So a lot of these assets need to be rethought a little bit. We need to put these things on public forums. Social media is key for this as we can bring in the entire public discourse and whatever. I'm not saying don't come up with any fact sheets or assets or any infographics like that, but make them social friendly. We have to understand how Congress is consuming content. So the best way we can completely understand that is by looking at their internet usage. Our websites are no longer just websites. Our websites are metric gathering hubs. We need to have stuff on there that will garner clicks to let us know what our members are thinking about for these different things. And more importantly, now more than ever is the time for you to get a legislator-facing webpage. Maybe something behind a firewall that you can start measuring their engagement with some of these issues. You can put some of your assets and your values forward in a way that maybe you hadn't done before because you're usually relying on in-person contact for these things. But digital communications have come along in a way that has made things a little bit easier and a little bit harder all at the same time. Again, it really helps for us to take a step back and look at how Congress is actually consuming this content. You can see that news publications and websites are their best and easiest way to get them up to speed. They like seeing themselves in the public. They like seeing themselves in the news. They liked getting those Google alerts whenever they're mentioned. The newsletters that we used to send out to staffers with great assets or great content or great opportunities are now not even an option for some of these offices. But these are still easy ways that we can get some people involved and start trading up the chain. I'd like to invite you to look at the bottom, right of this slide for the newsletters to influence others. It's absolutely minuscule at this point. And when National Journal actually held this survey that was in a time where staffers were still signing up for newsletters. It was a way for them to really get up to speed quickly. But now, unfortunately, they are doing so much work. They're going out and actively looking for information. So we can't wait for them to passively come across this stuff. So the best way we can really do that is by leveraging some of our digital activist advocacy tools. These things are the same tools that we've used over and over again, emails, phone calls, posts on social media, and petitions. But we need to adjust the way that we do these things anymore. We have to have a tent pole strategy where you have an action. You have time to rest. You have an action, you have a time of rest. So it's important for you to get what's called drip campaigns going. Drip campaigns are where you can start an interaction either with a member or that member can start interaction with a member of Congress. And it's a very easy thing to do. Form emails are a good way to do this. Forwarding newsletters or assets are a good way to do this, but of course, we want to get them to steadily raise higher than that. We want to get them to have that personal relationship, because at this point, just sending an email is just sending a number to a Monday meeting. So we need to give our people something to do. We need to make them active advocates in this discussion. The way we do that at the American Bar Association can be copied throughout this entire town throughout this entire industry. But digital campaigns are a main hub of this. And going back to what I was saying earlier, the main thing we can do to bolster these campaigns is now adding different facets to them. Start with an email. Follow up with social media posts, tagging a member of Congress asking if they had received that email. Have your members call with a phone call asking if they had seen that tweet, asking if they had seen that email, and then get your members to go to an in-district meeting or have a Zoom conference with one of those staffers asking if they had seen everything before. We need to combine efforts and we need to work together with our advocates and with other organizations to do the things that we normally did in a much more organized fashion. Of course, having our fly-ins is still a great way that we can coalesce around issues. We can still talk to all of our advocates about what matters to our industries, our professions. And maybe we add a little bit more training to these things now. Maybe we add a little bit more digital training to these things now. Some of you might not have some of the complications I have working with the American Bar Association, but lawyers are not typically the most well adept to technology. They're usually not the most adjusted to some of the new tools that we have. One thing that we can really do is try to get them to understand some of these things in different formats than we've done before. I can see, I have a question here. What are the best strategies to get people interested and involved in your advocacy campaigns? I'm actually going to address that a little bit later, but the best thing you can do is make it personal. If I'm talking to you specifically, you want me to talk about the thing that you talked about? So go and see what they're talking about and make sure and frame it from that. If your member of Congress or your elected official that you're trying to influence in some way or the other is looking at immigration or looking at infrastructure in a certain way you want to go to their websites. You want to go to their social media and start with their content, send it to them and ask them a question, get them to clarify things to you. And now all of a sudden they're bought in. Give them some opportunities to talk to your members through some of these fly-ins. We actually at the ABA just had a, what we call the Student Debt Week of Action, where we got about 40 different organizations across the political spectrum ranging from everything from doctors, nurses, first responders to lawyers. And we really advocated on the public service loan forgiveness program. That was something that was really a mess and Congress was really having a hard time getting together. So we actually had an ABA day, a week that we stretched out, including as many other organizations as possible, trying to get as many things in the media as possible, and tried to move the needle in ways that we had never really thought of before. So that was a way that we could get them involved and actually invite them on. We were able to get Chuck Schumer. We were able to get John Cornyn and some of the other more prominent senators and representatives to even send videos to us. Now, we always had elected officials come and speak to us at some of our fly-in events or even try to give them awards or something like that to get them bought in. Having them film a one to five-minute video is such a small ask, especially when you provide those talking points. And especially when you've identified that those are the individuals that are uniquely interested in that subject. For instance, Senator Schumer has pressured President Biden pretty severely in the media to forgive a certain amount of student loan debts. He's really pushing for $50k. That's quite a bit. But he is in that realm and he's willing to negotiate on these things. So we brought him to the table to talk, not only about that but also about the importance of the PSLF program. So what is normally a huge Herculean task to get Chuck Schumer to come down to your fly-in is now as easy to shoot off a couple of emails and talking points, and then posting that video to your forum, or to your social media channels. Those are just a couple of ways. Like I said, I'll go ahead and get through a few later on. But there's just a ton of different ways that we need to rethink the way that we're interacting with these members of Congress in a more serial fashion. Don't just let it be about the one thing that they're talking about, pull from other things and extract what you need to extract and figure out how they fit into your picture. So another thing that you can do for this and to really get them involved is to get them involved on social media. Social media has always been a little bit of a tongue-in-cheek type platform for this town. People love to use it in certain ways and forget to use it in the ways that it's actually intended all of the time. Everybody always forgets that Twitter was originally created as a social media text messaging app. So for some reason, people just use Twitter to shout out into the void and only use Facebook to talk to their members or LinkedIn to have long-form articles. Where these things were originally designed to have instant communication. How do you do that? So the Congressional Management Foundation asked every congressional office, how many posts it would take to actually get them to take notice of. And actually, the results are really surprising to me 34% over a third of Congress actually says one to 10 posts is enough to get their attention on these things. That's incredibly easy to do. And even if it's just you and your colleagues' personal accounts, but getting your advocates involved, it can only lead to exponential growth in this area. Once more, almost 80% said one to 30 posts was enough to get them. That's 80% of Congress talking about social media and talking about the topics on social media. This has completely changed. This study was actually taken before the pandemic. And unfortunately, I wasn't really able to find something very reliable that I could point to post-pandemic to look at these things, but we all have to understand that the saturation level for these staffers and for these members of Congress is off the charts. They're scrolling through social media only to catch up, and they're just dealing with the alerts that they have to. So it's helpful to keep these things in mind while you plan out your actions, while you try to figure out your serial tent-pole strategy. You also need to remember that social media is only a conduit. That social media is the perfect place for you to get assets out and to get comments on your assets. Social media is also the perfect place to address questions that maybe don't look favorably for you. For instance, at the American Bar Association, we accredit law schools. So it seems very weird for people when they hear that we're advocating for student loan debt relief in some way or the other, they say can't you tell those colleges to charge less for these things. That's actually a violation of antitrust laws. There's no way anybody can tell you how to charge your business or your assets. So we have very clear lines in the legal profession about what we can address on this issue and what we can't. So it's a very clear thing that we need to address to a lot of people. I'm sure even some of these people on these calls that even understand this information are still going. Yeah, but can't you do something? So again, that's where the conversation gets louder. That's where a lot of people start piling in and that's where you really want to start turning to your leaders. Your leaders are people that garner a lot of followers, a lot of attention, and really need to have a stake in your strategy. Now, these can be internal leaders. These can be external leaders. We've really tried to harness some social media influencers with the ABA and some of my other organizations. Social media influencers, or people that can send out huge messages to huge audiences in very small formats. So reaching out to these individuals and getting them to comment on these things is a way for you to also hold the conversation on this stuff. Remember, you set the tone for these discussions, not the mob. So whenever anything starts going a little haywire invite those things and make it look like you are the one that's leading this conversation and the best people to do that right now is Facebook. If you're in Washington DC, I'm sure you've seen some of these Facebook ads that say they're in favor of government regulations. People would sit there and go, why in the world are they for that? They're also not saying what regulations they're for. They're taking that narrative and they're putting it in their ballpark and they're going to control this conversation moving forward. You can do that the exact same way by going. That's a very good comment. I'm going to invite our ABA president to comment on this since he knows a little bit more about this than I do, and then get your president to then comment back to your tweets with whatever thing you want, that message to be. Now you've recaptured that narrative and you're guiding it in a different way. They'll still sling arrows at you, but that's just people getting more engaged, more involved, and those are only your advocates you haven't won over. Another thing to keep in mind is how to get your message to stand out from the crowd. And this is something that a lot of us have seen before too. And this is absolutely information from before the pandemic, but this is extremely relevant because the things members of Congress wanted before the pandemic are still the things that they want now. And it's only your job to clearly communicate your value to these numbers a lot better. And the best way to do some of these things is by proving your worth by saving time. The best way we can use currency is either social currency, monetary currency, or time. Time is the biggest asset that any of these staffers or these members of Congress do not have enough of. So if we can help them with some of this stuff, they will come back to you till the day you resign. So the number one thing you can provide is information about the impact the bill would have on the district and the state, get this directly relatable to them. If you can talk about exactly what's going on in their neighborhood, they will absolutely perk up. Go ahead and use some slang or use some common reference points. If these are here, I can tell you when I was talking with Senator Cornyn, Whataburger came up pretty consistently. Anytime we talked to some of the members of Congress from California In and Out is always a topic of conversation. But it's really funny that this is something that we all know but the most surprising fact is that nobody does it. This green line that you'll see that just appeared on the 91% circle is the 9% that actually includes this information in every message that goes to the Hill. That means even though everybody in this town knows that this is what actually moves the needle, nobody's doing it. These are the things that take time, but given the right circumstance, you can really shine using these tools. Another way you can really make this personal to your members of Congress and to your members is to go state when federal can't states are really moving the needle. Right now. Just look at what's going on in Texas. Look at what's going on in Florida. Look at what's going on in California. States are taking action and people seem to prefer it that way and a large majority of these states. So make sure and have constant communication with your either state chapters or any type of small group that you can find in these geographical regions. If you don't have those, no problem. That's where you can start building a grassroots hierarchy where you can make that yourself. And that is something that people should really already be doing. You probably refer to them as your grasstops or your key contacts or something like that, but now more than ever, as I said, it's the time to get organized. So I would encourage you to actually come up with a grassroots hierarchy for your organization. Get people to actually apply for these positions so that they've bought in. Have only a select few that is able to get to that top rank. And only those few are the ones that can talk directly to some members of the team. Make it exclusive so that it's something that they want to do. Give them the language to use on LinkedIn. And everybody wants to blast things on social media right now, from their vacations to their progress at their jobs. So if you give them something that they can put on their resume that's music to their ears. So go ahead and give them the language to that. You can also give them different rewards that either cost money or don't cost money. I've received some really interesting collateral over the last year and a half, and a lot of them are focused on storytelling. Now, these are things that you can send out using just a small budget. You can get pamphlets made up that you stick different cards or pens or different chotchkies into these things that are relevant to your members but that don't have to cost a lot. Digital downloads or things that you can do. Everybody loves calendars. Everybody loves backgrounds. Everybody loves things that are relevant to them. So put that behind a firewall and make it so that they can't access that until they send three letters. It will be surprising how quickly they start trading up the chain. And all of a sudden, after sending those three letters, they're really much more adept to picking up the phone and making a phone call or going to that district office. So really try to firm up this hierarchy and try to get your leadership to get involved with this too. Could be as simple as having them include themselves on some calls, but really there are ways that you can go beyond that. At your next annual meeting, have a VIP bar that's over in the corner that's roped off that only your members that have done X amount of things can get to. Have pins or badges that only your officers can get past that red rope. It doesn't cost your organization anymore. You are going to have that bar in the room anyway, just put it in a corner and make it special for them. Have a special time with your leadership. I am fortunate enough to have some leaders that are willing to spend 10 to 15 minutes of alone time with these high-performing advocates. 15 minutes of them shaking a hand with the president of the ABA is actually pretty intriguing for a lot of them. So try to think of ways that you can use exclusivity while using access to reward these sensors in the brain that have unfortunately been so inundated with dopamine lately, that the saturation level has gotten to a point where sometimes it doesn't seem like any of these things are worth it. So let's give them that reciprocity. Let's show them that this does make a difference. Let's get them some real things that they can have that are tangible, that show them that they made a difference in Washington. I referenced a little earlier about some of these pieces of collateral that I've gotten that are focusing on storytelling. And it's really interesting how a lot of these people are using some of these tools. And really what they're doing is they're looking at ways of targeting me of how I look in the overall picture and how they can keep me in the wheel. I had that I made, I am obviously somebody that they find, they want my business, or they want my attention. So they'll send me some of this collateral that tells a story in five parts. And it's funny how you start noticing some of these formulas after you've seen these over and over again, and they all use the Pixar formula. And what Pixar did is when they were first getting started, they actually put some cognitive research together to figure out how many points in a story are actually the most relevant to bring people. And by points in the story. Points of conflict, points of victory, things like that. And it turns out five points of contact are the key. You want to introduce the subject. You want to introduce the problem. You want to have a climax. You want to see the result of it, and you want to have a happy ending. You want to give these people, these storylines that those same sensors in their brain are activated, not so much on dopamine, but more on serotonin. Serotonin is more of the empathetic gene. That's the thing that actually gets people to take action. And that's really important because what's happening right now is an inundation of dopamine to get people to take action and not serotonin. Dopamine is usually released whenever either something is painful, something is pleasurable, or we've accomplished something. So what people have done to hijack that is inundated with fear, inundated with a sense that we need to take action. We see this all the time and shopping platforms like Amazon or Groupon or anything like that with simple little key things like having a timer of how long something will stay in your cart. All of a sudden you get a rush of dopamine and you sit there. Oh, no, there are consequences if I don't do this right now, so I need to act now. So what you can do is use some of those same things, but just flip it just a little bit and use that different chemical, get them to be invested in your story so that they want to help, so that they feel empathetic to your issues and not scared that if they don't take action, something bad will happen. That's how you get long time advocates instead of one-off clicks. So what they've done is they've sent me collateral where they've given me a story of who they are, what problem they've overcome, why they're the key to the industry or to the problem, how they've addressed it specifically and how we can work together in the future to keep that success moving forward. A lot of people go, okay, that's fine. That's pretty normal. Why in the world did you bring up Pixar? It's because after one of my colleagues over ahead Bloomberg told me about this formula. He actually told me the first movie that it was used on and it crushed my spirit. The Lion King was the first time this formula was used and they have used it ever since. Of course, this was only something that was formalized recently. And now Pixar uses this format in just about any short story or a long-form long format video that they released now. But this has been used time and time again. Cliff Johnson always likes to go and talk about how Harry Potter and star wars were the exact same storyline. So you use that storyline. But your member is the hero. Put that member of Congress as the one that can actually take action and do something and then give them a picture of what it's going to look like when that success happens. When you're trying to come up with the strategy and trying to come up with some of these points of how you're going to address these things, it's really important to really have a roadmap that gets you in an organized fashion from point a to point. So whenever we are looking at some of these things we really want to try to figure out how we can address some of these issues that the members of Congress are trying to discuss in a way that's relevant in a way that matters. I'm being told that we're at the 35-minute mark. So I'm going to go ahead and jump through a few of these a little bit quickly, but really the thing I want to get across to you is that these are all things that you can do that you've done before in new ways and in ways that you can combine efforts. There are also ways that you can do this on a budget and the best way to do that is, like I said earlier, getting other people involved, getting other organizations involved, trying to figure out how you can multiply efforts on these things, how you can multiply resources. Another way you can do that is by using some great digital tools to keep your advocates completely involved, use things, to keep people engaged like Canva. It's funny, these social media platforms always say, now that organic search is dead. That unless you were using paid ads for these things, you're never going to get your content to the right people, but there is still a difference in that organic outreach in the algorithm. I, as I'm sure, some of you are aware if you post a post on Facebook, it doesn't go to every member and it goes to about 8% of your members. Once it starts getting clicks and likes, it can jump up to about 11%. But if you add an image to that, it automatically goes to about 12 to 15% of your followers. If you add a link or a video, that jumps up to about 23% of your followers. So having things like images from Canva which is just a free software, it's like a very easy-to-use Photoshop to just add these components to your posts does go along the way. Another great thing you can use if you want to actually take it another step is a website called Envato. And this is the platform that major media outlets like CNN, Fox News, all get their graphic packages. Every swipe that you see, every image that you add as a template that they took out this website, and just simply edited around a little bit. So you can do the exact same thing and that's about $17 a month. And then you can, all of a sudden have some of the most well-produced podcasts and video blogs on your website and on your social media channels that they've ever seen. It's how we've seen a lot of the rise of some of these alt-media outlets Newsmax or OANN or some of these things that really started off with a shoestring budget a couple of years ago. With that, I will go ahead and go to questions for some of these things. I see. We have one right here that says what are your thoughts on using lower-level gamification rewards, like arbitrary points in comparison to the social exclusivity approach? You mentioned a couple of times can points be at all encouraging? So points actually are one of those things that release serotonin and dopamine your oxytocin levels actually go up too, which is really interesting because a lot of things happen there. The pleasure center of your brain starts going crazy. When you see points it's aweird reaction we get when we see a green checkmark. For some reason, our brain automatically associates that with getting things done with a reward that we have done something good, and any time we do something good, we like that. And we want to do it again. We're more apt to want to reach out and spend our time on those things again. So if you can do some things like brand some points. Go ahead and do that. Quorum has a great gamification center. That is something that you can set up very easily that I would highly recommend that you do. And you can either set those things up to get to where points can be redeemed, or they can reach certain levels in different ways, but either way, it keeps them involved and it gives them a piece of ownership. It also gives you chances to reach out and say, Hey, you're only 20 points away from getting that new scarf for you're only 20 points away from getting 50% off our annual meeting. Can you send this letter to your member of Congress? And that way, when we see you in a couple of months at annual, it'll be that much less expensive. So feel free to use some of these things that to be honest, we've labeled them as clickbait, but change them just a little bit so that they're used in a more moral way, not so much manipulation as much as just understanding how humans work and getting that people aren't getting that same reciprocity that we were getting a year and a half ago and that there's nothing wrong with addressing. I just making things a little bit more personal. Another question I see here is what tools do you use for connecting members with Congress? So Quorum of course is our main tool. We love Quorum and have used that for years, actually. Probably it's saying too much now. But we re-upped our contract with Quorum because we find them to be so valuable. We want to keep them going in the future. But there are some other great resources that you can use to just reach out for some of these congressional outreaches that maybe not so direct that Quorum is. For that, you can look at Leadership Connect. You can reach out to Know Who or Columbia books. But they're basically just resources where you can go and get contact information that they can go ahead and start reaching out to these members for. Of course, Quorum has contracts with the Hill so that they can actually make sure that your emails are guaranteed to get through congressional firewalls and some of these filters and things like that some of the other ones don't, but that doesn't mean that there aren't channels to do that. And of course, the thing that I really want to mention more than anything else and I am so sorry to a couple of my friends that have asked me not to say this, but social media is the best way to interact with staffers. Staffers are on social frankly too much. And they like that interaction. And this is a group of people that likes networking, that likes feeling connected. So feel free to reach out to them. Don't leave them out just because you want to reach out to the member of Congress and you want to get that handle to be responded back to. Figure out who those staffers are. So things like Know Who, Leadership Connect, and Quorum, of course. You can go on there and see these staffers figuring out who they are and follow them. A lot of them are pretty interesting to follow, to be totally honest. A lot of chiefs of staff will actually be a little bit more engaged than you think. Another great way that you could do some of this stuff is by scheduling it out, using tools like Hootsuite or Tweet Deck, things to take care of all of your more mundane posts, the ones that you can just schedule on a Sunday and just set it and forget it. So that way you free up a whole day to actually just interact on social. Staffers are always on LinkedIn. They're probably trying to find jobs, some of the younger ones after their terms end here, and they're going to want to have those networks and capabilities up. Go ahead and reach out to them. We got it approved to have what's called continuing legal education, CLE credits, which is what all legal professionals have to get. We were able to get that free to anybody that works for certain government entities, certain nonprofits, or certain financial situations so that we're able to give those as resources to some of these staffers up on the Hill that really wants to have a career in the legal profession. So figure out what your niche is that they're actually interested in and try to set it up in a way that you can sit there and communicate with them and really show your value in some of these things. Another question I'm getting is what campaign types in Quorum are the best for the entry-level. Great question. Great question. So on these, you really want to look at sort of constant benefit rewards on these things. How much time are these people actually spending sending these messages and phone calls are great except they're a lot more difficult to do and a lot more difficult to manage and you don't get the metrics like you do for sending an email or posting on social media. So those are two ways that you can really get people very quickly and easily engaged and in different formats. What we try to do is really try to incorporate multiple campaigns. So if somebody will go on and send a letter, a form letter then we will immediately thank them and say since you've sent that letter, please make it public. And here's a campaign that you can post to Twitter. That actually includes your members of Congress has tags on that. Sometimes they use that sometimes they don't if they do use that. And then we can wait about two or three weeks and send them another email and say, oh my gosh, what you did mattered so much. We need you to do one more thing. Would you mind doing this and just sending it up for that next level or doing just a little bit more and saying this letter meant so much and I hope you've got that response. I've got mine here. Would you mind getting five of your colleagues to do that? So then they can expand the network a little bit. Another great tool you could use is something like a sign-on letter or a petition to get other organizations involved. We have red tape beyond belief for the legal profession. I cannot tell you how much my team loves to dive into the weeds. So for us to be able to get coalition partners is actually not an option for us. We don't join coalitions. But what we can do is join on partner sign-on letters. It's something very easy. It takes down the approval level that needs to go through the system for most organizations. And so those are things that you can either do to get other organizations or other big entities involved. So I would say a good, easy first entry-level campaigns for individuals would be more like emails and social media posts on Quorum. And then jumping up from that to larger organizations. I would say things like petitions and sign-on letters that organizations sign and not individuals. [post_title] => Grassroots Advocacy Crash Course with the American Bar Association's Eric Storey [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => grassroots-advocacy-crash-course-eric-storey [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-10-14 12:35:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-10-14 12:35:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.quorum.us/?post_type=resources&p=5778 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => resources [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 1 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 5778 [post_author] => 12 [post_date] => 2021-10-13 21:44:26 [post_date_gmt] => 2021-10-13 21:44:26 [post_content] => Thank you to everyone at Quorum for allowing me to talk to everybody today. 10 years ago when I first moved to Washington, DC, I remember meeting with a US Senator as a pretty big deal for me back then. And I remember having this long conversation and that person not being able to understand the difference between Twitter and Facebook. For the life of him he really tried and just a huge conversation ensued about status updates click through. And everything that goes along with social media and he just could not figure out that these were two completely separate websites. Turns out a couple months ago, I actually had another event with the same Senator and I'll never forget sitting in front of him when he leaned forward and said into my ear, if one more grown adult asks me to do the face swapping filter on Snap, I'm leaving right now. The fact is that digital communications have changed forever. People that have never sent anything on a social media or anything like that are now conducting business meetings across the country and using things like Zoom and Skype to do things they never thought possible. The digital Pandora's box has completely opened and we are never going back to normal. So I thought I would take some time today and talk about a crash course, relook at grassroots advocacy and really adjusting how we're going to change things and the new normal. Very quickly, a little bit about myself. Like Patrick said my name is Eric Storey. I'm the Director of Grassroots and Digital Advocacy at the American Bar Association. But I've worked for associations, nonprofits, at agencies, and sort of everything in between. I've got educations from Texas A& M and Harvard universities. I've actually started my own nonprofit. I co-founded the Grassroots Professional Network. With just over three years, we were able to grow to about 26,000 members operating in about three countries and had offices in Washington, DC and Brussels. But honestly, all of that kind of has to get thrown out the window at this point because we have an entirely new set of tools and an entirely new environment that we're working in. So today I would like to talk a little bit about where Congress was and where they are now, how you can use your grassroots in this new normal, how you can really leverage social media because now public pressure is more important than ever, And how you can re-look at your arsenal of tools and how you can really do that in a budget. So before we jump into looking at how things are now, I think it will be helpful if we look at how things were back then. And for that, one of my favorite things to do is go to the Congressional Management Foundation study that I'm sure a lot of us are very familiar with. It came out, I believe in about 2015 and really gave us a good look at what moves the needle in Congress. You can see by this slide in-person visits from constituents really was the top of the top. But the third-best option you could do was a unique email. That's incredibly powerful for your advocates across the country. But of course, in this new normal, in the last year and a half, our digital communications have skyrocketed. I actually did a little informal survey of about 20 staffers that I'm familiar with. And each of them has said their email load has not doubled, has not tripled, but more like quadrupled over the last year and a half. Things are getting out of control. People are handling thousands of emails a day, and those are just the ones they have to get back. So it's incredibly difficult for us to take this sort of new normal and figure out how to use our old tools again, to really move the needle in Congress and actually get our issues noticed. So I think when one of the best things that we can do is just tell ourselves to things will never be the same. We need to understand that this new environment brings new processes, new thought processes, new ways that we can engage that we've never thought possible before. But of course, it's still those same tools that we were using before. So how do we adjust these things? We have to keep some things in mind. Things like our brain chemistry is not the same as it was back when we were still going to the office in 2019. Your dopamine levels, cortisol levels, your serotonin levels are all completely different than when you were in the office. The fact of the matter is our screen time has also increased exponentially. A lot of people are reporting about a hundred percent increase since the pandemic started in their screen usage. And the fact that one instance alone can increase our dopamine levels by tenfold changes the way that we view the world. I'll refer to dopamine a few times throughout this discussion. And that's because the dopamine chemical is actually what we call our friendly chemical. That's what we feel whenever we hug somebody, whenever we feel close to somebody. It's the same chemical that gets released whenever you feel affection towards someone. That's what that reciprocity feeling is that we use with our grassroots advocates all the time and then we use with Congress to actually get things done. And that has skyrocketed with the use of social media lately. Everybody is addicted to dopamine levels. We all are checking our phones. You're probably looking at two other screens right now. These things change the way that we view the world and it changes the way we take action on these things. So unfortunately we have to use some of the tools that a lot of people have put a bad name towards in a very moral and very mature way, just to understand how we can move the needle. So taking another look at the same slide, a few things stand out. We still know that emails are still the most influential way that people can communicate with their elected officials with the least amount of effort. We can't forget that. And we can use that as an initial spark to S to get people to start a relationship with their elected officials, or even to get them in our grassroots funnel. Face-to-face interactions, no longer have to be in. In-district meetings are still incredibly relevant, but of course, Zoom, Skype are all very commonly used on the Hill now. And the timing of your issue has never mattered more, being able to pull in other people and other organizations to help your cause is really a great way that you can get the ball rolling on more fronts than just one. But you have to make sure you're aligned on these things and you have to make sure that your issue is what's getting talked about on the Hill. The fact is this Congress is not the most productive that we've ever had. And to get our issues mapped out in the way that we want to see them accomplished, it's just not going to happen in the same ways that we've done it before. So we need to combine our efforts and we need to trade up the chain. We need to start small and continue those relationships as they get bigger. We need to start action, small show people, how they can get involved in just very quick, easy ways, and then get them more and more involved as we go. So taking another look at some of the tools that we have in hand, we noticed that a lot of the assets that we used to hand in person that sort of probably went in the trash. The second we went out the door are now all getting sent digitally. They're all, probably not even scrolling through those pages as we're talking. So a lot of these assets need to be rethought a little bit. We need to put these things on public forums. Social media is key for this as we can bring in the entire public discourse and whatever. I'm not saying don't come up with any fact sheets or assets or any infographics like that, but make them social friendly. We have to understand how Congress is consuming content. So the best way we can completely understand that is by looking at their internet usage. Our websites are no longer just websites. Our websites are metric gathering hubs. We need to have stuff on there that will garner clicks to let us know what our members are thinking about for these different things. And more importantly, now more than ever is the time for you to get a legislator-facing webpage. Maybe something behind a firewall that you can start measuring their engagement with some of these issues. You can put some of your assets and your values forward in a way that maybe you hadn't done before because you're usually relying on in-person contact for these things. But digital communications have come along in a way that has made things a little bit easier and a little bit harder all at the same time. Again, it really helps for us to take a step back and look at how Congress is actually consuming this content. You can see that news publications and websites are their best and easiest way to get them up to speed. They like seeing themselves in the public. They like seeing themselves in the news. They liked getting those Google alerts whenever they're mentioned. The newsletters that we used to send out to staffers with great assets or great content or great opportunities are now not even an option for some of these offices. But these are still easy ways that we can get some people involved and start trading up the chain. I'd like to invite you to look at the bottom, right of this slide for the newsletters to influence others. It's absolutely minuscule at this point. And when National Journal actually held this survey that was in a time where staffers were still signing up for newsletters. It was a way for them to really get up to speed quickly. But now, unfortunately, they are doing so much work. They're going out and actively looking for information. So we can't wait for them to passively come across this stuff. So the best way we can really do that is by leveraging some of our digital activist advocacy tools. These things are the same tools that we've used over and over again, emails, phone calls, posts on social media, and petitions. But we need to adjust the way that we do these things anymore. We have to have a tent pole strategy where you have an action. You have time to rest. You have an action, you have a time of rest. So it's important for you to get what's called drip campaigns going. Drip campaigns are where you can start an interaction either with a member or that member can start interaction with a member of Congress. And it's a very easy thing to do. Form emails are a good way to do this. Forwarding newsletters or assets are a good way to do this, but of course, we want to get them to steadily raise higher than that. We want to get them to have that personal relationship, because at this point, just sending an email is just sending a number to a Monday meeting. So we need to give our people something to do. We need to make them active advocates in this discussion. The way we do that at the American Bar Association can be copied throughout this entire town throughout this entire industry. But digital campaigns are a main hub of this. And going back to what I was saying earlier, the main thing we can do to bolster these campaigns is now adding different facets to them. Start with an email. Follow up with social media posts, tagging a member of Congress asking if they had received that email. Have your members call with a phone call asking if they had seen that tweet, asking if they had seen that email, and then get your members to go to an in-district meeting or have a Zoom conference with one of those staffers asking if they had seen everything before. We need to combine efforts and we need to work together with our advocates and with other organizations to do the things that we normally did in a much more organized fashion. Of course, having our fly-ins is still a great way that we can coalesce around issues. We can still talk to all of our advocates about what matters to our industries, our professions. And maybe we add a little bit more training to these things now. Maybe we add a little bit more digital training to these things now. Some of you might not have some of the complications I have working with the American Bar Association, but lawyers are not typically the most well adept to technology. They're usually not the most adjusted to some of the new tools that we have. One thing that we can really do is try to get them to understand some of these things in different formats than we've done before. I can see, I have a question here. What are the best strategies to get people interested and involved in your advocacy campaigns? I'm actually going to address that a little bit later, but the best thing you can do is make it personal. If I'm talking to you specifically, you want me to talk about the thing that you talked about? So go and see what they're talking about and make sure and frame it from that. If your member of Congress or your elected official that you're trying to influence in some way or the other is looking at immigration or looking at infrastructure in a certain way you want to go to their websites. You want to go to their social media and start with their content, send it to them and ask them a question, get them to clarify things to you. And now all of a sudden they're bought in. Give them some opportunities to talk to your members through some of these fly-ins. We actually at the ABA just had a, what we call the Student Debt Week of Action, where we got about 40 different organizations across the political spectrum ranging from everything from doctors, nurses, first responders to lawyers. And we really advocated on the public service loan forgiveness program. That was something that was really a mess and Congress was really having a hard time getting together. So we actually had an ABA day, a week that we stretched out, including as many other organizations as possible, trying to get as many things in the media as possible, and tried to move the needle in ways that we had never really thought of before. So that was a way that we could get them involved and actually invite them on. We were able to get Chuck Schumer. We were able to get John Cornyn and some of the other more prominent senators and representatives to even send videos to us. Now, we always had elected officials come and speak to us at some of our fly-in events or even try to give them awards or something like that to get them bought in. Having them film a one to five-minute video is such a small ask, especially when you provide those talking points. And especially when you've identified that those are the individuals that are uniquely interested in that subject. For instance, Senator Schumer has pressured President Biden pretty severely in the media to forgive a certain amount of student loan debts. He's really pushing for $50k. That's quite a bit. But he is in that realm and he's willing to negotiate on these things. So we brought him to the table to talk, not only about that but also about the importance of the PSLF program. So what is normally a huge Herculean task to get Chuck Schumer to come down to your fly-in is now as easy to shoot off a couple of emails and talking points, and then posting that video to your forum, or to your social media channels. Those are just a couple of ways. Like I said, I'll go ahead and get through a few later on. But there's just a ton of different ways that we need to rethink the way that we're interacting with these members of Congress in a more serial fashion. Don't just let it be about the one thing that they're talking about, pull from other things and extract what you need to extract and figure out how they fit into your picture. So another thing that you can do for this and to really get them involved is to get them involved on social media. Social media has always been a little bit of a tongue-in-cheek type platform for this town. People love to use it in certain ways and forget to use it in the ways that it's actually intended all of the time. Everybody always forgets that Twitter was originally created as a social media text messaging app. So for some reason, people just use Twitter to shout out into the void and only use Facebook to talk to their members or LinkedIn to have long-form articles. Where these things were originally designed to have instant communication. How do you do that? So the Congressional Management Foundation asked every congressional office, how many posts it would take to actually get them to take notice of. And actually, the results are really surprising to me 34% over a third of Congress actually says one to 10 posts is enough to get their attention on these things. That's incredibly easy to do. And even if it's just you and your colleagues' personal accounts, but getting your advocates involved, it can only lead to exponential growth in this area. Once more, almost 80% said one to 30 posts was enough to get them. That's 80% of Congress talking about social media and talking about the topics on social media. This has completely changed. This study was actually taken before the pandemic. And unfortunately, I wasn't really able to find something very reliable that I could point to post-pandemic to look at these things, but we all have to understand that the saturation level for these staffers and for these members of Congress is off the charts. They're scrolling through social media only to catch up, and they're just dealing with the alerts that they have to. So it's helpful to keep these things in mind while you plan out your actions, while you try to figure out your serial tent-pole strategy. You also need to remember that social media is only a conduit. That social media is the perfect place for you to get assets out and to get comments on your assets. Social media is also the perfect place to address questions that maybe don't look favorably for you. For instance, at the American Bar Association, we accredit law schools. So it seems very weird for people when they hear that we're advocating for student loan debt relief in some way or the other, they say can't you tell those colleges to charge less for these things. That's actually a violation of antitrust laws. There's no way anybody can tell you how to charge your business or your assets. So we have very clear lines in the legal profession about what we can address on this issue and what we can't. So it's a very clear thing that we need to address to a lot of people. I'm sure even some of these people on these calls that even understand this information are still going. Yeah, but can't you do something? So again, that's where the conversation gets louder. That's where a lot of people start piling in and that's where you really want to start turning to your leaders. Your leaders are people that garner a lot of followers, a lot of attention, and really need to have a stake in your strategy. Now, these can be internal leaders. These can be external leaders. We've really tried to harness some social media influencers with the ABA and some of my other organizations. Social media influencers, or people that can send out huge messages to huge audiences in very small formats. So reaching out to these individuals and getting them to comment on these things is a way for you to also hold the conversation on this stuff. Remember, you set the tone for these discussions, not the mob. So whenever anything starts going a little haywire invite those things and make it look like you are the one that's leading this conversation and the best people to do that right now is Facebook. If you're in Washington DC, I'm sure you've seen some of these Facebook ads that say they're in favor of government regulations. People would sit there and go, why in the world are they for that? They're also not saying what regulations they're for. They're taking that narrative and they're putting it in their ballpark and they're going to control this conversation moving forward. You can do that the exact same way by going. That's a very good comment. I'm going to invite our ABA president to comment on this since he knows a little bit more about this than I do, and then get your president to then comment back to your tweets with whatever thing you want, that message to be. Now you've recaptured that narrative and you're guiding it in a different way. They'll still sling arrows at you, but that's just people getting more engaged, more involved, and those are only your advocates you haven't won over. Another thing to keep in mind is how to get your message to stand out from the crowd. And this is something that a lot of us have seen before too. And this is absolutely information from before the pandemic, but this is extremely relevant because the things members of Congress wanted before the pandemic are still the things that they want now. And it's only your job to clearly communicate your value to these numbers a lot better. And the best way to do some of these things is by proving your worth by saving time. The best way we can use currency is either social currency, monetary currency, or time. Time is the biggest asset that any of these staffers or these members of Congress do not have enough of. So if we can help them with some of this stuff, they will come back to you till the day you resign. So the number one thing you can provide is information about the impact the bill would have on the district and the state, get this directly relatable to them. If you can talk about exactly what's going on in their neighborhood, they will absolutely perk up. Go ahead and use some slang or use some common reference points. If these are here, I can tell you when I was talking with Senator Cornyn, Whataburger came up pretty consistently. Anytime we talked to some of the members of Congress from California In and Out is always a topic of conversation. But it's really funny that this is something that we all know but the most surprising fact is that nobody does it. This green line that you'll see that just appeared on the 91% circle is the 9% that actually includes this information in every message that goes to the Hill. That means even though everybody in this town knows that this is what actually moves the needle, nobody's doing it. These are the things that take time, but given the right circumstance, you can really shine using these tools. Another way you can really make this personal to your members of Congress and to your members is to go state when federal can't states are really moving the needle. Right now. Just look at what's going on in Texas. Look at what's going on in Florida. Look at what's going on in California. States are taking action and people seem to prefer it that way and a large majority of these states. So make sure and have constant communication with your either state chapters or any type of small group that you can find in these geographical regions. If you don't have those, no problem. That's where you can start building a grassroots hierarchy where you can make that yourself. And that is something that people should really already be doing. You probably refer to them as your grasstops or your key contacts or something like that, but now more than ever, as I said, it's the time to get organized. So I would encourage you to actually come up with a grassroots hierarchy for your organization. Get people to actually apply for these positions so that they've bought in. Have only a select few that is able to get to that top rank. And only those few are the ones that can talk directly to some members of the team. Make it exclusive so that it's something that they want to do. Give them the language to use on LinkedIn. And everybody wants to blast things on social media right now, from their vacations to their progress at their jobs. So if you give them something that they can put on their resume that's music to their ears. So go ahead and give them the language to that. You can also give them different rewards that either cost money or don't cost money. I've received some really interesting collateral over the last year and a half, and a lot of them are focused on storytelling. Now, these are things that you can send out using just a small budget. You can get pamphlets made up that you stick different cards or pens or different chotchkies into these things that are relevant to your members but that don't have to cost a lot. Digital downloads or things that you can do. Everybody loves calendars. Everybody loves backgrounds. Everybody loves things that are relevant to them. So put that behind a firewall and make it so that they can't access that until they send three letters. It will be surprising how quickly they start trading up the chain. And all of a sudden, after sending those three letters, they're really much more adept to picking up the phone and making a phone call or going to that district office. So really try to firm up this hierarchy and try to get your leadership to get involved with this too. Could be as simple as having them include themselves on some calls, but really there are ways that you can go beyond that. At your next annual meeting, have a VIP bar that's over in the corner that's roped off that only your members that have done X amount of things can get to. Have pins or badges that only your officers can get past that red rope. It doesn't cost your organization anymore. You are going to have that bar in the room anyway, just put it in a corner and make it special for them. Have a special time with your leadership. I am fortunate enough to have some leaders that are willing to spend 10 to 15 minutes of alone time with these high-performing advocates. 15 minutes of them shaking a hand with the president of the ABA is actually pretty intriguing for a lot of them. So try to think of ways that you can use exclusivity while using access to reward these sensors in the brain that have unfortunately been so inundated with dopamine lately, that the saturation level has gotten to a point where sometimes it doesn't seem like any of these things are worth it. So let's give them that reciprocity. Let's show them that this does make a difference. Let's get them some real things that they can have that are tangible, that show them that they made a difference in Washington. I referenced a little earlier about some of these pieces of collateral that I've gotten that are focusing on storytelling. And it's really interesting how a lot of these people are using some of these tools. And really what they're doing is they're looking at ways of targeting me of how I look in the overall picture and how they can keep me in the wheel. I had that I made, I am obviously somebody that they find, they want my business, or they want my attention. So they'll send me some of this collateral that tells a story in five parts. And it's funny how you start noticing some of these formulas after you've seen these over and over again, and they all use the Pixar formula. And what Pixar did is when they were first getting started, they actually put some cognitive research together to figure out how many points in a story are actually the most relevant to bring people. And by points in the story. Points of conflict, points of victory, things like that. And it turns out five points of contact are the key. You want to introduce the subject. You want to introduce the problem. You want to have a climax. You want to see the result of it, and you want to have a happy ending. You want to give these people, these storylines that those same sensors in their brain are activated, not so much on dopamine, but more on serotonin. Serotonin is more of the empathetic gene. That's the thing that actually gets people to take action. And that's really important because what's happening right now is an inundation of dopamine to get people to take action and not serotonin. Dopamine is usually released whenever either something is painful, something is pleasurable, or we've accomplished something. So what people have done to hijack that is inundated with fear, inundated with a sense that we need to take action. We see this all the time and shopping platforms like Amazon or Groupon or anything like that with simple little key things like having a timer of how long something will stay in your cart. All of a sudden you get a rush of dopamine and you sit there. Oh, no, there are consequences if I don't do this right now, so I need to act now. So what you can do is use some of those same things, but just flip it just a little bit and use that different chemical, get them to be invested in your story so that they want to help, so that they feel empathetic to your issues and not scared that if they don't take action, something bad will happen. That's how you get long time advocates instead of one-off clicks. So what they've done is they've sent me collateral where they've given me a story of who they are, what problem they've overcome, why they're the key to the industry or to the problem, how they've addressed it specifically and how we can work together in the future to keep that success moving forward. A lot of people go, okay, that's fine. That's pretty normal. Why in the world did you bring up Pixar? It's because after one of my colleagues over ahead Bloomberg told me about this formula. He actually told me the first movie that it was used on and it crushed my spirit. The Lion King was the first time this formula was used and they have used it ever since. Of course, this was only something that was formalized recently. And now Pixar uses this format in just about any short story or a long-form long format video that they released now. But this has been used time and time again. Cliff Johnson always likes to go and talk about how Harry Potter and star wars were the exact same storyline. So you use that storyline. But your member is the hero. Put that member of Congress as the one that can actually take action and do something and then give them a picture of what it's going to look like when that success happens. When you're trying to come up with the strategy and trying to come up with some of these points of how you're going to address these things, it's really important to really have a roadmap that gets you in an organized fashion from point a to point. So whenever we are looking at some of these things we really want to try to figure out how we can address some of these issues that the members of Congress are trying to discuss in a way that's relevant in a way that matters. I'm being told that we're at the 35-minute mark. So I'm going to go ahead and jump through a few of these a little bit quickly, but really the thing I want to get across to you is that these are all things that you can do that you've done before in new ways and in ways that you can combine efforts. There are also ways that you can do this on a budget and the best way to do that is, like I said earlier, getting other people involved, getting other organizations involved, trying to figure out how you can multiply efforts on these things, how you can multiply resources. Another way you can do that is by using some great digital tools to keep your advocates completely involved, use things, to keep people engaged like Canva. It's funny, these social media platforms always say, now that organic search is dead. That unless you were using paid ads for these things, you're never going to get your content to the right people, but there is still a difference in that organic outreach in the algorithm. I, as I'm sure, some of you are aware if you post a post on Facebook, it doesn't go to every member and it goes to about 8% of your members. Once it starts getting clicks and likes, it can jump up to about 11%. But if you add an image to that, it automatically goes to about 12 to 15% of your followers. If you add a link or a video, that jumps up to about 23% of your followers. So having things like images from Canva which is just a free software, it's like a very easy-to-use Photoshop to just add these components to your posts does go along the way. Another great thing you can use if you want to actually take it another step is a website called Envato. And this is the platform that major media outlets like CNN, Fox News, all get their graphic packages. Every swipe that you see, every image that you add as a template that they took out this website, and just simply edited around a little bit. So you can do the exact same thing and that's about $17 a month. And then you can, all of a sudden have some of the most well-produced podcasts and video blogs on your website and on your social media channels that they've ever seen. It's how we've seen a lot of the rise of some of these alt-media outlets Newsmax or OANN or some of these things that really started off with a shoestring budget a couple of years ago. With that, I will go ahead and go to questions for some of these things. I see. We have one right here that says what are your thoughts on using lower-level gamification rewards, like arbitrary points in comparison to the social exclusivity approach? You mentioned a couple of times can points be at all encouraging? So points actually are one of those things that release serotonin and dopamine your oxytocin levels actually go up too, which is really interesting because a lot of things happen there. The pleasure center of your brain starts going crazy. When you see points it's aweird reaction we get when we see a green checkmark. For some reason, our brain automatically associates that with getting things done with a reward that we have done something good, and any time we do something good, we like that. And we want to do it again. We're more apt to want to reach out and spend our time on those things again. So if you can do some things like brand some points. Go ahead and do that. Quorum has a great gamification center. That is something that you can set up very easily that I would highly recommend that you do. And you can either set those things up to get to where points can be redeemed, or they can reach certain levels in different ways, but either way, it keeps them involved and it gives them a piece of ownership. It also gives you chances to reach out and say, Hey, you're only 20 points away from getting that new scarf for you're only 20 points away from getting 50% off our annual meeting. Can you send this letter to your member of Congress? And that way, when we see you in a couple of months at annual, it'll be that much less expensive. So feel free to use some of these things that to be honest, we've labeled them as clickbait, but change them just a little bit so that they're used in a more moral way, not so much manipulation as much as just understanding how humans work and getting that people aren't getting that same reciprocity that we were getting a year and a half ago and that there's nothing wrong with addressing. I just making things a little bit more personal. Another question I see here is what tools do you use for connecting members with Congress? So Quorum of course is our main tool. We love Quorum and have used that for years, actually. Probably it's saying too much now. But we re-upped our contract with Quorum because we find them to be so valuable. We want to keep them going in the future. But there are some other great resources that you can use to just reach out for some of these congressional outreaches that maybe not so direct that Quorum is. For that, you can look at Leadership Connect. You can reach out to Know Who or Columbia books. But they're basically just resources where you can go and get contact information that they can go ahead and start reaching out to these members for. Of course, Quorum has contracts with the Hill so that they can actually make sure that your emails are guaranteed to get through congressional firewalls and some of these filters and things like that some of the other ones don't, but that doesn't mean that there aren't channels to do that. And of course, the thing that I really want to mention more than anything else and I am so sorry to a couple of my friends that have asked me not to say this, but social media is the best way to interact with staffers. Staffers are on social frankly too much. And they like that interaction. And this is a group of people that likes networking, that likes feeling connected. So feel free to reach out to them. Don't leave them out just because you want to reach out to the member of Congress and you want to get that handle to be responded back to. Figure out who those staffers are. So things like Know Who, Leadership Connect, and Quorum, of course. You can go on there and see these staffers figuring out who they are and follow them. A lot of them are pretty interesting to follow, to be totally honest. A lot of chiefs of staff will actually be a little bit more engaged than you think. Another great way that you could do some of this stuff is by scheduling it out, using tools like Hootsuite or Tweet Deck, things to take care of all of your more mundane posts, the ones that you can just schedule on a Sunday and just set it and forget it. So that way you free up a whole day to actually just interact on social. Staffers are always on LinkedIn. They're probably trying to find jobs, some of the younger ones after their terms end here, and they're going to want to have those networks and capabilities up. Go ahead and reach out to them. We got it approved to have what's called continuing legal education, CLE credits, which is what all legal professionals have to get. We were able to get that free to anybody that works for certain government entities, certain nonprofits, or certain financial situations so that we're able to give those as resources to some of these staffers up on the Hill that really wants to have a career in the legal profession. So figure out what your niche is that they're actually interested in and try to set it up in a way that you can sit there and communicate with them and really show your value in some of these things. Another question I'm getting is what campaign types in Quorum are the best for the entry-level. Great question. Great question. So on these, you really want to look at sort of constant benefit rewards on these things. How much time are these people actually spending sending these messages and phone calls are great except they're a lot more difficult to do and a lot more difficult to manage and you don't get the metrics like you do for sending an email or posting on social media. So those are two ways that you can really get people very quickly and easily engaged and in different formats. What we try to do is really try to incorporate multiple campaigns. So if somebody will go on and send a letter, a form letter then we will immediately thank them and say since you've sent that letter, please make it public. And here's a campaign that you can post to Twitter. That actually includes your members of Congress has tags on that. Sometimes they use that sometimes they don't if they do use that. And then we can wait about two or three weeks and send them another email and say, oh my gosh, what you did mattered so much. We need you to do one more thing. Would you mind doing this and just sending it up for that next level or doing just a little bit more and saying this letter meant so much and I hope you've got that response. I've got mine here. Would you mind getting five of your colleagues to do that? So then they can expand the network a little bit. Another great tool you could use is something like a sign-on letter or a petition to get other organizations involved. We have red tape beyond belief for the legal profession. I cannot tell you how much my team loves to dive into the weeds. So for us to be able to get coalition partners is actually not an option for us. We don't join coalitions. But what we can do is join on partner sign-on letters. It's something very easy. It takes down the approval level that needs to go through the system for most organizations. And so those are things that you can either do to get other organizations or other big entities involved. So I would say a good, easy first entry-level campaigns for individuals would be more like emails and social media posts on Quorum. And then jumping up from that to larger organizations. I would say things like petitions and sign-on letters that organizations sign and not individuals. [post_title] => Grassroots Advocacy Crash Course with the American Bar Association's Eric Storey [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => grassroots-advocacy-crash-course-eric-storey [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2021-10-14 12:35:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2021-10-14 12:35:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.quorum.us/?post_type=resources&p=5778 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => resources [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [comment_count] => 0 [current_comment] => -1 [found_posts] => 1 [max_num_pages] => 0 [max_num_comment_pages] => 0 [is_single] => 1 [is_preview] => [is_page] => [is_archive] => [is_date] => [is_year] => [is_month] => [is_day] => [is_time] => [is_author] => [is_category] => [is_tag] => [is_tax] => [is_search] => [is_feed] => [is_comment_feed] => [is_trackback] => [is_home] => [is_privacy_policy] => [is_404] => [is_embed] => [is_paged] => [is_admin] => [is_attachment] => [is_singular] => 1 [is_robots] => [is_favicon] => [is_posts_page] => [is_post_type_archive] => [query_vars_hash:WP_Query:private] => 155cab8f74517fb7a7ac77e8f862b14e [query_vars_changed:WP_Query:private] => [thumbnails_cached] => [stopwords:WP_Query:private] => [compat_fields:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => query_vars_hash [1] => query_vars_changed ) [compat_methods:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => init_query_flags [1] => parse_tax_query ) )
!!! 5778
Info

Grassroots Advocacy Crash Course with the American Bar Association’s Eric Storey

Grassroots Advocacy Crash Course with the American Bar Association’s Eric Storey

Thank you to everyone at Quorum for allowing me to talk to everybody today. 10 years ago when I first moved to Washington, DC, I remember meeting with a US Senator as a pretty big deal for me back then. And I remember having this long conversation and that person not being able to understand the difference between Twitter and Facebook. For the life of him he really tried and just a huge conversation ensued about status updates click through. And everything that goes along with social media and he just could not figure out that these were two completely separate websites.

Turns out a couple months ago, I actually had another event with the same Senator and I’ll never forget sitting in front of him when he leaned forward and said into my ear, if one more grown adult asks me to do the face swapping filter on Snap, I’m leaving right now. The fact is that digital communications have changed forever. People that have never sent anything on a social media or anything like that are now conducting business meetings across the country and using things like Zoom and Skype to do things they never thought possible. The digital Pandora’s box has completely opened and we are never going back to normal. So I thought I would take some time today and talk about a crash course, relook at grassroots advocacy and really adjusting how we’re going to change things and the new normal.

Very quickly, a little bit about myself. Like Patrick said my name is Eric Storey. I’m the Director of Grassroots and Digital Advocacy at the American Bar Association. But I’ve worked for associations, nonprofits, at agencies, and sort of everything in between. I’ve got educations from Texas A& M and Harvard universities. I’ve actually started my own nonprofit. I co-founded the Grassroots Professional Network. With just over three years, we were able to grow to about 26,000 members operating in about three countries and had offices in Washington, DC and Brussels. But honestly, all of that kind of has to get thrown out the window at this point because we have an entirely new set of tools and an entirely new environment that we’re working in.

So today I would like to talk a little bit about where Congress was and where they are now, how you can use your grassroots in this new normal, how you can really leverage social media because now public pressure is more important than ever, And how you can re-look at your arsenal of tools and how you can really do that in a budget.

So before we jump into looking at how things are now, I think it will be helpful if we look at how things were back then. And for that, one of my favorite things to do is go to the Congressional Management Foundation study that I’m sure a lot of us are very familiar with. It came out, I believe in about 2015 and really gave us a good look at what moves the needle in Congress. You can see by this slide in-person visits from constituents really was the top of the top. But the third-best option you could do was a unique email. That’s incredibly powerful for your advocates across the country. But of course, in this new normal, in the last year and a half, our digital communications have skyrocketed.

I actually did a little informal survey of about 20 staffers that I’m familiar with. And each of them has said their email load has not doubled, has not tripled, but more like quadrupled over the last year and a half. Things are getting out of control. People are handling thousands of emails a day, and those are just the ones they have to get back. So it’s incredibly difficult for us to take this sort of new normal and figure out how to use our old tools again, to really move the needle in Congress and actually get our issues noticed. So I think when one of the best things that we can do is just tell ourselves to things will never be the same.

We need to understand that this new environment brings new processes, new thought processes, new ways that we can engage that we’ve never thought possible before. But of course, it’s still those same tools that we were using before. So how do we adjust these things? We have to keep some things in mind. Things like our brain chemistry is not the same as it was back when we were still going to the office in 2019. Your dopamine levels, cortisol levels, your serotonin levels are all completely different than when you were in the office.

The fact of the matter is our screen time has also increased exponentially. A lot of people are reporting about a hundred percent increase since the pandemic started in their screen usage. And the fact that one instance alone can increase our dopamine levels by tenfold changes the way that we view the world. I’ll refer to dopamine a few times throughout this discussion. And that’s because the dopamine chemical is actually what we call our friendly chemical. That’s what we feel whenever we hug somebody, whenever we feel close to somebody. It’s the same chemical that gets released whenever you feel affection towards someone. That’s what that reciprocity feeling is that we use with our grassroots advocates all the time and then we use with Congress to actually get things done. And that has skyrocketed with the use of social media lately. Everybody is addicted to dopamine levels. We all are checking our phones. You’re probably looking at two other screens right now. These things change the way that we view the world and it changes the way we take action on these things.

So unfortunately we have to use some of the tools that a lot of people have put a bad name towards in a very moral and very mature way, just to understand how we can move the needle. So taking another look at the same slide, a few things stand out. We still know that emails are still the most influential way that people can communicate with their elected officials with the least amount of effort. We can’t forget that. And we can use that as an initial spark to S to get people to start a relationship with their elected officials, or even to get them in our grassroots funnel. Face-to-face interactions, no longer have to be in. In-district meetings are still incredibly relevant, but of course, Zoom, Skype are all very commonly used on the Hill now.

And the timing of your issue has never mattered more, being able to pull in other people and other organizations to help your cause is really a great way that you can get the ball rolling on more fronts than just one. But you have to make sure you’re aligned on these things and you have to make sure that your issue is what’s getting talked about on the Hill. The fact is this Congress is not the most productive that we’ve ever had. And to get our issues mapped out in the way that we want to see them accomplished, it’s just not going to happen in the same ways that we’ve done it before. So we need to combine our efforts and we need to trade up the chain. We need to start small and continue those relationships as they get bigger. We need to start action, small show people, how they can get involved in just very quick, easy ways, and then get them more and more involved as we go.

So taking another look at some of the tools that we have in hand, we noticed that a lot of the assets that we used to hand in person that sort of probably went in the trash. The second we went out the door are now all getting sent digitally. They’re all, probably not even scrolling through those pages as we’re talking. So a lot of these assets need to be rethought a little bit. We need to put these things on public forums. Social media is key for this as we can bring in the entire public discourse and whatever. I’m not saying don’t come up with any fact sheets or assets or any infographics like that, but make them social friendly.

We have to understand how Congress is consuming content. So the best way we can completely understand that is by looking at their internet usage. Our websites are no longer just websites. Our websites are metric gathering hubs. We need to have stuff on there that will garner clicks to let us know what our members are thinking about for these different things. And more importantly,
now more than ever is the time for you to get a legislator-facing webpage. Maybe something behind a firewall that you can start measuring their engagement with some of these issues. You can put some of your assets and your values forward in a way that maybe you hadn’t done before because you’re usually relying on in-person contact for these things. But digital communications have come along in a way that has made things a little bit easier and a little bit harder all at the same time. Again, it really helps for us to take a step back and look at how Congress is actually consuming this content. You can see that news publications and websites are their best and easiest way to get them up to speed. They like seeing themselves in the public. They like seeing themselves in the news. They liked getting those Google alerts whenever they’re mentioned. The newsletters that we used to send out to staffers with great assets or great content or great opportunities are now not even an option for some of these offices.

But these are still easy ways that we can get some people involved and start trading up the chain. I’d like to invite you to look at the bottom, right of this slide for the newsletters to influence others. It’s absolutely minuscule at this point. And when National Journal actually held this survey that was in a time where staffers were still signing up for newsletters. It was a way for them to really get up to speed quickly. But now, unfortunately, they are doing so much work. They’re going out and actively looking for information. So we can’t wait for them to passively come across this stuff. So the best way we can really do that is by leveraging some of our digital activist advocacy tools. These things are the same tools that we’ve used over and over again, emails, phone calls, posts on social media, and petitions. But we need to adjust the way that we do these things anymore. We have to have a tent pole strategy where you have an action. You have time to rest. You have an action, you have a time of rest. So it’s important for you to get what’s called drip campaigns going. Drip campaigns are where you can start an interaction either with a member or that member can start interaction with a member of Congress.

And it’s a very easy thing to do. Form emails are a good way to do this. Forwarding newsletters or assets are a good way to do this, but of course, we want to get them to steadily raise higher than that. We want to get them to have that personal relationship, because at this point, just sending an email is just sending a number to a Monday meeting. So we need to give our people something to do. We need to make them active advocates in this discussion. The way we do that at the American Bar Association can be copied throughout this entire town throughout this entire industry. But digital campaigns are a main hub of this. And going back to what I was saying earlier, the main thing we can do to bolster these campaigns is now adding different facets to them.

Start with an email. Follow up with social media posts, tagging a member of Congress asking if they had received that email. Have your members call with a phone call asking if they had seen that tweet, asking if they had seen that email, and then get your members to go to an in-district meeting or have a Zoom conference with one of those staffers asking if they had seen everything before.
We need to combine efforts and we need to work together with our advocates and with other organizations to do the things that we normally did in a much more organized fashion. Of course, having our fly-ins is still a great way that we can coalesce around issues. We can still talk to all of our advocates about what matters to our industries, our professions. And maybe we add a little bit more training to these things now. Maybe we add a little bit more digital training to these things now. Some of you might not have some of the complications I have working with the American Bar Association, but lawyers are not typically the most well adept to technology. They’re usually not the most adjusted to some of the new tools that we have. One thing that we can really do is try to get them to understand some of these things in different formats than we’ve done before.

I can see, I have a question here. What are the best strategies to get people interested and involved in your advocacy campaigns? I’m actually going to address that a little bit later, but the best thing you can do is make it personal. If I’m talking to you specifically, you want me to talk about the thing that you talked about? So go and see what they’re talking about and make sure and frame it from that. If your member of Congress or your elected official that you’re trying to influence in some way or the other is looking at immigration or looking at infrastructure in a certain way you want to go to their websites. You want to go to their social media and start with their content, send it to them and ask them a question, get them to clarify things to you. And now all of a sudden they’re bought in. Give them some opportunities to talk to your members through some of these fly-ins.

We actually at the ABA just had a, what we call the Student Debt Week of Action, where we got about 40 different organizations across the political spectrum ranging from everything from doctors, nurses, first responders to lawyers. And we really advocated on the public service loan forgiveness program. That was something that was really a mess and Congress was really having a hard time getting together. So we actually had an ABA day, a week that we stretched out, including as many other organizations as possible, trying to get as many things in the media as possible, and tried to move the needle in ways that we had never really thought of before. So that was a way that we could get them involved and actually invite them on. We were able to get Chuck Schumer. We were able to get John Cornyn and some of the other more prominent senators and representatives to even send videos to us. Now, we always had elected officials come and speak to us at some of our fly-in events or even try to give them awards or something like that to get them bought in.

Having them film a one to five-minute video is such a small ask, especially when you provide those talking points. And especially when you’ve identified that those are the individuals that are uniquely interested in that subject. For instance, Senator Schumer has pressured President Biden pretty severely in the media to forgive a certain amount of student loan debts. He’s really pushing for $50k. That’s quite a bit. But he is in that realm and he’s willing to negotiate on these things. So we brought him to the table to talk, not only about that but also about the importance of the PSLF program. So what is normally a huge Herculean task to get Chuck Schumer to come down to your fly-in is now as easy to shoot off a couple of emails and talking points, and then posting that video to your forum, or to your social media channels.

Those are just a couple of ways. Like I said, I’ll go ahead and get through a few later on. But there’s just a ton of different ways that we need to rethink the way that we’re interacting with these members of Congress in a more serial fashion. Don’t just let it be about the one thing that they’re talking about, pull from other things and extract what you need to extract and figure out how they fit into your picture.

So another thing that you can do for this and to really get them involved is to get them involved on social media. Social media has always been a little bit of a tongue-in-cheek type platform for this town. People love to use it in certain ways and forget to use it in the ways that it’s actually intended all of the time. Everybody always forgets that Twitter was originally created as a social media text messaging app. So for some reason, people just use Twitter to shout out into the void and only use Facebook to talk to their members or LinkedIn to have long-form articles. Where these things were originally designed to have instant communication.

How do you do that? So the Congressional Management Foundation asked every congressional office, how many posts it would take to actually get them to take notice of. And actually, the results are really surprising to me 34% over a third of Congress actually says one to 10 posts is enough to get their attention on these things. That’s incredibly easy to do. And even if it’s just you and your colleagues’ personal accounts, but getting your advocates involved, it can only lead to exponential growth in this area. Once more, almost 80% said one to 30 posts was enough to get them. That’s 80% of Congress talking about social media and talking about the topics on social media. This has completely changed. This study was actually taken before the pandemic. And unfortunately, I wasn’t really able to find something very reliable that I could point to post-pandemic to look at these things, but we all have to understand that the saturation level for these staffers and for these members of Congress is off the charts. They’re scrolling through social media only to catch up, and they’re just dealing with the alerts that they have to. So it’s helpful to keep these things in mind while you plan out your actions, while you try to figure out your serial tent-pole strategy.

You also need to remember that social media is only a conduit. That social media is the perfect place for you to get assets out and to get comments on your assets. Social media is also the perfect place to address questions that maybe don’t look favorably for you. For instance, at the American Bar Association, we accredit law schools. So it seems very weird for people when they hear that we’re advocating for student loan debt relief in some way or the other, they say can’t you tell those colleges to charge less for these things. That’s actually a violation of antitrust laws. There’s no way anybody can tell you how to charge your business or your assets. So we have very clear lines in the legal profession about what we can address on this issue and what we can’t. So it’s a very clear thing that we need to address to a lot of people. I’m sure even some of these people on these calls that even understand this information are still going. Yeah, but can’t you do something? So again, that’s where the conversation gets louder. That’s where a lot of people start piling in and that’s where you really want to start turning to your leaders.

Your leaders are people that garner a lot of followers, a lot of attention, and really need to have a stake in your strategy. Now, these can be internal leaders. These can be external leaders. We’ve really tried to harness some social media influencers with the ABA and some of my other organizations. Social media influencers, or people that can send out huge messages to huge audiences in very small formats. So reaching out to these individuals and getting them to comment on these things is a way for you to also hold the conversation on this stuff. Remember, you set the tone for these discussions, not the mob. So whenever anything starts going a little haywire invite those things and make it look like you are the one that’s leading this conversation and the best people to do that right now is Facebook.

If you’re in Washington DC, I’m sure you’ve seen some of these Facebook ads that say they’re in favor of government regulations. People would sit there and go, why in the world are they for that? They’re also not saying what regulations they’re for. They’re taking that narrative and they’re putting it in their ballpark and they’re going to control this conversation moving forward. You can do that the exact same way by going. That’s a very good comment. I’m going to invite our ABA president to comment on this since he knows a little bit more about this than I do, and then get your president to then comment back to your tweets with whatever thing you want, that message to be. Now you’ve recaptured that narrative and you’re guiding it in a different way. They’ll still sling arrows at you, but that’s just people getting more engaged, more involved, and those are only your advocates you haven’t won over.

Another thing to keep in mind is how to get your message to stand out from the crowd. And this is something that a lot of us have seen before too. And this is absolutely information from before the pandemic, but this is extremely relevant because the things members of Congress wanted before the pandemic are still the things that they want now. And it’s only your job to clearly communicate your value to these numbers a lot better. And the best way to do some of these things is by proving your worth by saving time. The best way we can use currency is either social currency, monetary currency, or time. Time is the biggest asset that any of these staffers or these members of Congress do not have enough of. So if we can help them with some of this stuff, they will come back to you till the day you resign. So the number one thing you can provide is information about the impact the bill would have on the district and the state, get this directly relatable to them.

If you can talk about exactly what’s going on in their neighborhood, they will absolutely perk up. Go ahead and use some slang or use some common reference points. If these are here, I can tell you when I was talking with Senator Cornyn, Whataburger came up pretty consistently. Anytime we talked to some of the members of Congress from California In and Out is always a topic of conversation. But it’s really funny that this is something that we all know but the most surprising fact is that nobody does it. This green line that you’ll see that just appeared on the 91% circle is the 9% that actually includes this information in every message that goes to the Hill. That means even though everybody in this town knows that this is what actually moves the needle, nobody’s doing it.
These are the things that take time, but given the right circumstance, you can really shine using these tools.

Another way you can really make this personal to your members of Congress and to your members is to go state when federal can’t states are really moving the needle. Right now. Just look at what’s going on in Texas. Look at what’s going on in Florida. Look at what’s going on in California. States are taking action and people seem to prefer it that way and a large majority of these states. So make sure and have constant communication with your either state chapters or any type of small group that you can find in these geographical regions. If you don’t have those, no problem. That’s where you can start building a grassroots hierarchy where you can make that yourself. And that is something that people should really already be doing. You probably refer to them as your grasstops or your key contacts or something like that, but now more than ever, as I said, it’s the time to get organized.

So I would encourage you to actually come up with a grassroots hierarchy for your organization. Get people to actually apply for these positions so that they’ve bought in. Have only a select few that is able to get to that top rank. And only those few are the ones that can talk directly to some members of the team. Make it exclusive so that it’s something that they want to do. Give them the language to use on LinkedIn. And everybody wants to blast things on social media right now, from their vacations to their progress at their jobs. So if you give them something that they can put on their resume that’s music to their ears. So go ahead and give them the language to that.
You can also give them different rewards that either cost money or don’t cost money. I’ve received some really interesting collateral over the last year and a half, and a lot of them are focused on storytelling. Now, these are things that you can send out using just a small budget. You can get pamphlets made up that you stick different cards or pens or different chotchkies into these things that are relevant to your members but that don’t have to cost a lot. Digital downloads or things that you can do. Everybody loves calendars. Everybody loves backgrounds. Everybody loves things that are relevant to them. So put that behind a firewall and make it so that they can’t access that until they send three letters. It will be surprising how quickly they start trading up the chain. And all of a sudden, after sending those three letters, they’re really much more adept to picking up the phone and making a phone call or going to that district office. So really try to firm up this hierarchy and try to get your leadership to get involved with this too. Could be as simple as having them include themselves on some calls, but really there are ways that you can go beyond that. At your next annual meeting, have a VIP bar that’s over in the corner that’s roped off that only your members that have done X amount of things can get to. Have pins or badges that only your officers can get past that red rope. It doesn’t cost your organization anymore. You are going to have that bar in the room anyway, just put it in a corner and make it special for them. Have a special time with your leadership. I am fortunate enough to have some leaders that are willing to spend 10 to 15 minutes of alone time with these high-performing advocates. 15 minutes of them shaking a hand with the president of the ABA is actually pretty intriguing for a lot of them. So try to think of ways that you can use exclusivity while using access to reward these sensors in the brain that have unfortunately been so inundated with dopamine lately, that the saturation level has gotten to a point where sometimes it doesn’t seem like any of these things are worth it. So let’s give them that reciprocity. Let’s show them that this does make a difference. Let’s get them some real things that they can have that are tangible, that show them that they made a difference in Washington.

I referenced a little earlier about some of these pieces of collateral that I’ve gotten that are focusing on storytelling. And it’s really interesting how a lot of these people are using some of these tools. And really what they’re doing is they’re looking at ways of targeting me of how I look in the overall picture and how they can keep me in the wheel. I had that I made, I am obviously somebody that they find, they want my business, or they want my attention.

So they’ll send me some of this collateral that tells a story in five parts. And it’s funny how you start noticing some of these formulas after you’ve seen these over and over again, and they all use the Pixar formula. And what Pixar did is when they were first getting started, they actually put some cognitive research together to figure out how many points in a story are actually the most relevant to bring people. And by points in the story. Points of conflict, points of victory, things like that. And it turns out five points of contact are the key. You want to introduce the subject. You want to introduce the problem. You want to have a climax. You want to see the result of it, and you want to have a happy ending. You want to give these people, these storylines that those same sensors in their brain are activated, not so much on dopamine, but more on serotonin. Serotonin is more of the empathetic gene. That’s the thing that actually gets people to take action. And that’s really important because what’s happening right now is an inundation of dopamine to get people to take action and not serotonin. Dopamine is usually released whenever either something is painful, something is pleasurable, or we’ve accomplished something. So what people have done to hijack that is inundated with fear, inundated with a sense that we need to take action. We see this all the time and shopping platforms like Amazon or Groupon or anything like that with simple little key things like having a timer of how long something will stay in your cart. All of a sudden you get a rush of dopamine and you sit there. Oh, no, there are consequences if I don’t do this right now, so I need to act now. So what you can do is use some of those same things, but just flip it just a little bit and use that different chemical, get them to be invested in your story so that they want to help, so that they feel empathetic to your issues and not scared that if they don’t take action, something bad will happen. That’s how you get long time advocates instead of one-off clicks.

So what they’ve done is they’ve sent me collateral where they’ve given me a story of who they are, what problem they’ve overcome, why they’re the key to the industry or to the problem, how they’ve addressed it specifically and how we can work together in the future to keep that success moving forward. A lot of people go, okay, that’s fine. That’s pretty normal. Why in the world did you bring up Pixar? It’s because after one of my colleagues over ahead Bloomberg told me about this formula. He actually told me the first movie that it was used on and it crushed my spirit. The Lion King was the first time this formula was used and they have used it ever since. Of course, this was only something that was formalized recently. And now Pixar uses this format in just about any short story or a long-form long format video that they released now. But this has been used time and time again. Cliff Johnson always likes to go and talk about how Harry Potter and star wars were the exact same storyline.

So you use that storyline. But your member is the hero. Put that member of Congress as the one that can actually take action and do something and then give them a picture of what it’s going to look like when that success happens. When you’re trying to come up with the strategy and trying to come up with some of these points of how you’re going to address these things, it’s really important to really have a roadmap that gets you in an organized fashion from point a to point.

So whenever we are looking at some of these things we really want to try to figure out how we can address some of these issues that the members of Congress are trying to discuss in a way that’s relevant in a way that matters. I’m being told that we’re at the 35-minute mark. So I’m going to go ahead and jump through a few of these a little bit quickly, but really the thing I want to get across to you is that these are all things that you can do that you’ve done before in new ways and in ways that you can combine efforts.

There are also ways that you can do this on a budget and the best way to do that is, like I said earlier, getting other people involved, getting other organizations involved, trying to figure out how you can multiply efforts on these things, how you can multiply resources. Another way you can do that is by using some great digital tools to keep your advocates completely involved, use things, to keep people engaged like Canva.

It’s funny, these social media platforms always say, now that organic search is dead. That unless you were using paid ads for these things, you’re never going to get your content to the right people, but there is still a difference in that organic outreach in the algorithm. I, as I’m sure, some of you are aware if you post a post on Facebook, it doesn’t go to every member and it goes to about 8% of your members. Once it starts getting clicks and likes, it can jump up to about 11%. But if you add an image to that, it automatically goes to about 12 to 15% of your followers. If you add a link or a video, that jumps up to about 23% of your followers. So having things like images from Canva which is just a free software, it’s like a very easy-to-use Photoshop to just add these components to your posts does go along the way. Another great thing you can use if you want to actually take it another step is a website called Envato. And this is the platform that major media outlets like CNN, Fox News, all get their graphic packages. Every swipe that you see, every image that you add as a template that they took out this website, and just simply edited around a little bit.

So you can do the exact same thing and that’s about $17 a month. And then you can, all of a sudden have some of the most well-produced podcasts and video blogs on your website and on your social media channels that they’ve ever seen. It’s how we’ve seen a lot of the rise of some of these alt-media outlets Newsmax or OANN or some of these things that really started off with a shoestring budget a couple of years ago.

With that, I will go ahead and go to questions for some of these things. I see. We have one right here that says what are your thoughts on using lower-level gamification rewards, like arbitrary points in comparison to the social exclusivity approach? You mentioned a couple of times can points be at all encouraging?

So points actually are one of those things that release serotonin and dopamine your oxytocin levels actually go up too, which is really interesting because a lot of things happen there. The pleasure center of your brain starts going crazy. When you see points it’s aweird reaction we get when we see a green checkmark. For some reason, our brain automatically associates that with getting things done with a reward that we have done something good, and any time we do something good, we like that. And we want to do it again. We’re more apt to want to reach out and spend our time on those things again. So if you can do some things like brand some points. Go ahead and do that. Quorum has a great gamification center. That is something that you can set up very easily that I would highly recommend that you do. And you can either set those things up to get to where points can be redeemed, or they can reach certain levels in different ways, but either way, it keeps them involved and it gives them a piece of ownership. It also gives you chances to reach out and say, Hey, you’re only 20 points away from getting that new scarf for you’re only 20 points away from getting 50% off our annual meeting. Can you send this letter to your member of Congress? And that way, when we see you in a couple of months at annual, it’ll be that much less expensive.

So feel free to use some of these things that to be honest, we’ve labeled them as clickbait, but change them just a little bit so that they’re used in a more moral way, not so much manipulation as much as just understanding how humans work and getting that people aren’t getting that same reciprocity that we were getting a year and a half ago and that there’s nothing wrong with addressing. I just making things a little bit more personal.

Another question I see here is what tools do you use for connecting members with Congress?

So Quorum of course is our main tool. We love Quorum and have used that for years, actually. Probably it’s saying too much now. But we re-upped our contract with Quorum because we find them to be so valuable. We want to keep them going in the future. But there are some other great resources that you can use to just reach out for some of these congressional outreaches that maybe not so direct that Quorum is. For that, you can look at Leadership Connect. You can reach out to Know Who or Columbia books. But they’re basically just resources where you can go and get contact information that they can go ahead and start reaching out to these members for. Of course, Quorum has contracts with the Hill so that they can actually make sure that your emails are guaranteed to get through congressional firewalls and some of these filters and things like that some of the other ones don’t, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t channels to do that.

And of course, the thing that I really want to mention more than anything else and I am so sorry to a couple of my friends that have asked me not to say this, but social media is the best way to interact with staffers. Staffers are on social frankly too much. And they like that interaction. And this is a group of people that likes networking, that likes feeling connected. So feel free to reach out to them. Don’t leave them out just because you want to reach out to the member of Congress and you want to get that handle to be responded back to. Figure out who those staffers are.
So things like Know Who, Leadership Connect, and Quorum, of course. You can go on there and see these staffers figuring out who they are and follow them. A lot of them are pretty interesting to follow, to be totally honest. A lot of chiefs of staff will actually be a little bit more engaged than you think.

Another great way that you could do some of this stuff is by scheduling it out, using tools like Hootsuite or Tweet Deck, things to take care of all of your more mundane posts, the ones that you can just schedule on a Sunday and just set it and forget it. So that way you free up a whole day to actually just interact on social.

Staffers are always on LinkedIn. They’re probably trying to find jobs, some of the younger ones after their terms end here, and they’re going to want to have those networks and capabilities up. Go ahead and reach out to them. We got it approved to have what’s called continuing legal education, CLE credits, which is what all legal professionals have to get. We were able to get that free to anybody that works for certain government entities, certain nonprofits, or certain financial situations so that we’re able to give those as resources to some of these staffers up on the Hill that really wants to have a career in the legal profession. So figure out what your niche is that they’re actually interested in and try to set it up in a way that you can sit there and communicate with them and really show your value in some of these things.

Another question I’m getting is what campaign types in Quorum are the best for the entry-level. Great question. Great question.

So on these, you really want to look at sort of constant benefit rewards on these things. How much time are these people actually spending sending these messages and phone calls are great except they’re a lot more difficult to do and a lot more difficult to manage and you don’t get the metrics like you do for sending an email or posting on social media. So those are two ways that you can really get people very quickly and easily engaged and in different formats. What we try to do is really try to incorporate multiple campaigns. So if somebody will go on and send a letter, a form letter then we will immediately thank them and say since you’ve sent that letter, please make it public. And here’s a campaign that you can post to Twitter. That actually includes your members of Congress has tags on that. Sometimes they use that sometimes they don’t if they do use that. And then we can wait about two or three weeks and send them another email and say, oh my gosh, what you did mattered so much. We need you to do one more thing. Would you mind doing this and just sending it up for that next level or doing just a little bit more and saying this letter meant so much and I hope you’ve got that response. I’ve got mine here. Would you mind getting five of your colleagues to do that? So then they can expand the network a little bit.

Another great tool you could use is something like a sign-on letter or a petition to get other organizations involved. We have red tape beyond belief for the legal profession. I cannot tell you how much my team loves to dive into the weeds. So for us to be able to get coalition partners is actually not an option for us. We don’t join coalitions. But what we can do is join on partner sign-on letters. It’s something very easy. It takes down the approval level that needs to go through the system for most organizations.

And so those are things that you can either do to get other organizations or other big entities involved. So I would say a good, easy first entry-level campaigns for individuals would be more like emails and social media posts on Quorum. And then jumping up from that to larger organizations.
I would say things like petitions and sign-on letters that organizations sign and not individuals.