Deep Dive Breakout 2

Friday, August 5, 2016

11:30am – 12:30pm

Rob Jordan (American Medical Association), Mike Greene (Council for Responsible Nutrition), Jamie Williams (Nuclear Energy Institute) and Trey Hawkins (Credit Union National Association) 

Listen, monitor, evaluate, and prepare to engage. Find out how to locate your allies and prepare them to fight for your industry. Learn how to identify detractors and detect early warning signs of when their stories may spread.

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


Finding allies is about finding mutual interest. Find a champion who uses your product or engages with your cause or organization.

Situational allies can be people who work with you on specific issues and with a finite beginning and end.

Lobbying, education, national grassroots activity are not enough – you must build relationships at home during recesses, work weeks, and prior to elections. Often times your most ardent, true-believing supporters are at home, not in DC. Once you’ve engaged decision makers with these supporters and your other advocates, you must continue to repeat the advocacy actions.

What are the tools you use to listen and monitor?

Social media and other digital tools like online newsletters and comments sections. Pay attention to communications from both your allies and your detractors on these platforms.

Traditional media including letters to the editors, public polling, etc.

Research tools include voter surveys, focus groups, and message or dial testing. Make sure to regularly communicate with stakeholders to take their temperature. Start with good research and make sure you fully understand the issues and how people feel about them.

Who in your organization builds and maintains relationships with your supporters and allies?

Some organizations have all of their departments engaged in outward-facing advocacy with different stakeholders.

Or, have a partner outreach program managed by your public affairs team with a dedicated budge that holds periodic meetings and issue briefings and finds opportunities to work with advocates.

Developing an inoculation strategy / The importance of research.

You must be involved on the ground. Look to existing relationships your members have with Members of Congress. When a new Congress comes in, meet with new Members to educate them about your issue. Don’t underestimate how impactful being part of the conversation early can be.

Identifying who is with you and who is against you isn’t always black & white. Your allies won’t always be 100% with you, but someone who is with you 90% of the time and can get their message out is better than nothing. Align your interests and figure out where you can work together. Communicate constantly with your advocates so they feel like they have inside information.

Research will help you understand where your weak links are, including by testing your own messaging and your opponent’s messaging. Knowing your challenges can help when the s*** hits the fan…

What to do when the s*** hits the fan?

Never stop listening and don’t assume your colleagues have seen something negative. It doesn’t hurt to be redundant.

With detractors, remember that most of the time – especially on the internet – no response is the best response. Fight with both facts and emotions, recalling the psychology of disagreement. Finally, appeal to detractors’ common values.

Know in advance what your relevant committees are in Congress. Oppositional legislation introduced by someone who doesn’t serve on a relevant committee isn’t as damaging or threatening. Also consider the motivations of the Member and their staff – sometimes staff members drive an issue and their boss may not have as much, or any, knowledge of the issue.

Practice crisis communications in advance so you’re prepared when things go wrong. Have a response plan and resources in place, and make sure your rapid response team includes every stakeholder, from grassroots advocacy, communications, and government affairs to regulatory/policy experts and membership relations staff.