Deep Dive Breakout 1

Friday, August 4, 2017

9:55am –10:55am

Ryan Snyder (American Trucking Associations), Jessica Cooper (National Federation of Independent Business), Rachel Feinstein (Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association), and Michael Pepe (The Fertilizer Institute)

Last year, we looked at what we would do in an ideal world. This year, we reverse it and consider options when budget is limited or nonexistent.

Have feedback on this session? We’d love to hear it! Submit it here.


How a limited budget can spark creativity

  • Planning: Coordinate your fly-ins to coincide with when you need strategic bill support; use your time wisely.
  • Teamwork: Building partnerships and sponsorships helps take the financial burden off of the association. You can ask your members if they want to sponsor events, like a breakfast or happy hour, which is a creative way establish a partnership and supplement costs. While sponsorships may not be appropriate for every industry, they can be a unique method to engage. Small sponsorships can add up to large dollars too.

Issue Campaign Tips and Tricks

  • Having a “bag of tricks” is key. You need to have as many options as possible for your audience to engage, as it increases the likelihood that more people will be involved in your advocacy efforts.
  • Tactical examples include Emails to Congress, Petitions, Letters to the Editor, Social Media, Handouts, E-books, Interactive timelines, and Videos
  • Be strategic with your tactics, a little can go a long way—ie: reuse one story a handful of times on social media, in newsletters, photos in magazines…etc.
  • It can be challenging to humanize some policies, like tax reform. But you can come up with creative solutions to educate your audiences.
  • Example: You can invite people to share their stories in a handful of ways (in-person, through an online portal, on a postcard…etc.) You can then leverage one story in a multitude of ways! You can really bring your story to life by putting stories with them.
  • Example: Homemade video on a bill that would negatively impact a small business. The video made by the association member was authentic and real.
  • Example: Live Twitter chat which was a successful event that the association repurposed for newsletters and social media.

Did you have anyone troll your Twitter chat?

  • Staff did a lot of prep work for the session—so overall it went very smoothly however, to control “trolls,” you can simply invite the people you want to attend, rather than open it up to the public. You just need to be ready for anything and everything. You don’t need to even host a Twitter chat, you can host a roundtable too. Planning ahead is key for events—both on social and in-person. These are great opportunities to invite Members of Congress to learn more about your industry and it is a great promo for the Member of Congress too.

How to leverage volunteers and advocates

  • Leverage your in-state members and turn them into advocates
  • Create advocates as early as possible (even in a junior/youth/intern capacity)

Best Practices for Meetings

  • Have a “how to guide” for members on your website! Teach them how to engage.
  • Designate a tour guide for all site visits.
  • PLAN- You know when Congress has Recess and Members and staff are back in the District. Use this time wisely.
  • Alert the media, if appropriate. Let them know the Member of Congress and/or staff are visiting.
  • Take pictures to promote the visit to your membership—show them that they can get involved too!
  • Remember to send thank you notes to the Member of Congress and staff. You can build relationships with these people that will help you down the road.

Gathering Stories

  • Posting surveys on your website is an inexpensive way to gather information from members that you can share with Member of Congress.
  • These are very helpful for niche issues, and the stories are in the persons own words too.
  • This is also helpful to identify GAPS! Where are you missing stories from in a specific area?
  • Google has great tools that are free for you to use too.

Time vs. money: free is not cheap

  • How much is your time worth?
  • Spend money on visual aids you are going to share with Members of Congress!
  • Sometimes you can use the free tools to map out your ideas to then share with designers. (Example: Placing pictures in PPTs to concept out your idea(s))
  • Reminder to get everyone on your team onboard with the concept before going to design. (Example: Create an outline and circulate it internally to your team)

Best bang for your buck: what free tools do people use?

  • Free Online Tools: Pixlr, Pixabay, Piktochart, Dribble, Google forms, Typeform, Canva, LinkedIn, StockLayouts, Town hall meetings
  • Free-mium Online Tools: Fiverr (Not free, but you can hire freelancers) and WeVideo (Not free, but pretty inexpensive)

Given the political climate, have you had town halls cancelled on you lately?

  • Private events are now more common, as are Tele Town Halls.
  • Also, in-person district meeting have become more popular, rather than the traditional town hall event.