Deep Dive Breakout 2

Wednesday, August 1, 2018


A fully leveraged fly-in can provide up to 12 months of content and a cadre of energized advocate leaders. But you have to plan ahead to capture your participants’ stories, motivate them to engage successfully, and prepare them for the real work that awaits them in their home districts.

Notes from session:

Leveraging your fly-in to boost the effectiveness of your entire program.

  • Everything you do from a grassroots perspective should build out or build from your fly-in. Built out a calendar for how you will recruit, train, and follow-up with your advocates before, during, and after the fly-in.
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to fly-ins. Brief your advocates on what to expect when they come to the Hill. Tell them they’ll probably be meeting with staff so they’re not surprised.
  • Have a main issue that is a priority, but also know what your other priorities are if something happens and you need to pivot.
  • A fly-in is part of an overall program, it’s not standalone. The work of training the advocates is a long-term goal. Design a program training that can be used throughout the year. If you’re training advocates on social media, expand training so they can use those skills after the event.
  • While they’re in town, set them up for district meetings. It’s a lot harder for staff or representatives to say no to their face. Train them to make the requests, like asking to take a photo or inviting them to visit a local plant.

Training advocates for ongoing involvement.

  • The fly-in is a tactic, not a strategy. It’s a great opportunity to achieve organizational and legislative goals. One of those goals can be training – in what they experience on the Hill, and what they should plan for in the upcoming year.
  • At the very least, the lowest-level goal is to get out the advocacy agenda. Other goals escalate up into online action centers, state networks, webinar, in-person meetings, and board responsibilities.
  • Start advocacy training early! As soon as someone joins your organization, think about how to activate and educate them. Build confidence in your freshman or sophomore advocates.
  • Consider segmenting your fly-in groups based on experience and how many of them they’ve done in the past. You want to keep your high-level advocates involved. For example, you could train people who are more experienced in how to write and place an op-ed, how to be a leader, etc.
  • Make networking a part of the reception. Then, when they go home, they have colleagues that they can reach out to and ask questions that aren’t staff.
  • Keep your leave-behinds simple. If staff need a fact from you, they’ll call. Only highlight what you really need to get done. Don’t talk about more than 3 issues, or include more than 3 in the packet. You can go in with no leave-behinds and follow up with materials they care about. Expect staffers will toss out the materials, and train them to follow up via email.
  • Don’t give a leave-behind until the end of the meeting, if you give one at all. The staffer you’re talking to will be distracted as they read it. The packet is for the advocate more than the staffer.

The importance of in-district engagement and how to organize it from DC.

  • Ensure advocates are ready to advocate year-round. Provide assistance with whatever your members want to do: in-state roundtables, testimony at the state legislature, or drafting an op-ed. Let them be the eyes and ears on the ground!
  • A lot of the follow-up is getting their notes and impressions so that your DC and state staff can move forward. Give them paper forms (or an app) so they can write down notes right after the meeting. 2-3 days afterwards, send them a survey asking them to write down their impressions.
  • Emphasize that this is about having a relationship with the lawmaker to engage your advocates long-term. Send home a 4×4: 4 things to do in the next 4 weeks.
  • If they don’t follow up on the app, send a photo and a handwritten thank you note where you ask them to fill in the survey.
  • Use fly-ins to get photography that you use on social media later on. Make the most of your photography and video capture time. Using a specific hashtag can also help with promotion.
  • Doing a “tweet of the day” with a prize will motivate people to use the fly-in or organization hashtag. You can use Tagboard, which tracks and pulls messages from your hashtags.
  • Consider running district meetings with the people who didn’t come to DC Can also encourage people to send in tweets or videos from the district.
  • Can tie-in a fundraising push to the fly in and have friends/family members
  • For smaller fly-ins, target key members of Congress and their staff, committee staff, agency staff, and other partner organizations.
  • Fly-ins are a springboard opportunity for your grassroots advocates.

Getting attention from legislators and your own members.

  • Social media is a great place to reach out to members of Congress and your own members.
  • Tag your lawmaker when you get a photo of them – they love a photo op! Make sure the materials you give members have large logos that you can take pictures of from any angle.
  • Tell scheduler what your social handles are in advance, or print them on a business card to hand out.
  • Provide digital toolkits to Congressional staff and caucuses including graphics, hashtags, handles, etc. to make it easy for them to engage.
  • Find something identifiable for your organization – whether that’s an “I Heart Trucks” pin, or Alzheimer’s advocates in purple, or physicians in white coats. Make sure it’s unisex so all your advocates can use them, like scarves or bags.