Deep Dive Breakout 3

Wednesday, August 1, 2018


Employees know your issues and have a vested interest in advancing their industry. So why sideline them when they have potential to become your top advocates? We’ll feature successful employee engagement campaigns and discuss how your PAC and advocacy programs can best work together.

Notes from session:

PAC and Advocacy Programs Working Together

  • Picking your PAC champions may mean that you are choosing leadership members or people who are intentionally closest to where you have the most employees, in the case of Ford.
  • Some common resources created include a policy toolkit, email toolkits, one-pagers, so every issue they touch has a resource for how to get employees engaged in Advocacy and PACs. Often PAC members get “clips.”
  • Sometimes, lobbyists will fly in to talk with PAC members on behalf of PAC champions in order to speak to PAC members and explain how politicians’ offices work.
  • PAC Captains at The Home Depot are offered leadership opportunities and those who have high results for fundraising or membership growth get opportunities to come to a fly-in each year.

Cadence to Avoid Burnout

The Home Depot: Solicitation campaign once a year for 4 weeks and then there’s nothing the rest of the year. They send weekly legislative updates, open rate is 68-70%, goes to 8000 PAC members (higher level)

Ford: Cadence is 2 weeks for issue sends, they do a fly-in once a year, and there are options for global calls, 5-10 PAC members get picked out of a hat for a fly-in, it’s part of the fall campaign and they pick right after.

General Motors:  Grassroots and PAC are completely separate. PAC is opted into grassroots but there isn’t much fluidity between the two programs.

PAC Signups

  • Ford/General Motors can’t solicit hourly workers, only salaried and global headquarters
  • The Home Depot, whole eligible class are salaried so they are in front of a computer and will see comunications- it really comes down to knowing your audience.

Company Buy-in for Employee Activism

  • You need buy-in from employees but also from leadership
  • Support from senior leaders and CEO is critical, integrating executives as much as possible is important
  • Knowing the executive’s issue areas is important to make sure the right people are engaged and aware of your part of the company
  • Branding is important for separating advocacy to keep people aware of what the color themes and script- and what it means when you’re getting a PAC alert
  • Keeping communications simple and relevant encourages buy-in
  • Provide assets to your PAC members or grassroots advocates through education weekly emails that tie into the culture of your company in a relevant way

Common Challenges

  • Mass appeal: You can’t reach everyone and the company culture varies across the country
  • Inbox overload: They are focused on their day-to-day so you need to be able to cut through the clutter
  • Issue education
    • Some employees don’t want to mix work and politics, so you need to educate them on how issues can impact the company and potentially their jobs.
    • In communications, make it clear that you’re not just explaining the issue but explaining ad nauseum how this impacts the company, and therefore how it can impact you.
    • It may help to say: “We can’t afford not to. Our competitors are out there doing it, we need to make sure that the Hill understands our issues so it’s happening with or without you and you should be part of it. A healthy company is a healthy career, we can’t do that if legislation impacts our business.”
    • Another option is to use competitors as motivation more, Ford wants to beat GM so it will always be more effective in Michigan to pit them against competitors than partisan politics.
    • You can leverage participation in satellite offices who want to feel like they’re part of the bigger picture and link them into news.

Using Creative Incentives

  • For young professionals, create it a leadership opportunity for more “professional development” when they may not have much internal promotion opportunities.
  • Ford: PAC incentives are in person at suites in Michigan, send some people to DCC
  • The Home Depot: Pizza & Politicas quarterly, bring in legislators, and VIPs get access to them and photography line. This event is coming up, PAC members are invited, VIPs can become it through increasing PAC level
  • General Motos: Highest giving donors get lunch and reception with CEOs, invite PAC captains and PAC ambassadors plus highest giving donors go to Tigers stadium. Do ribbons on nametags for in-person events so that people can see how engaged they are with each, creates a “thank you for giving” rather than a “why are you here”.

Successful Employee Engagement Campaigns

  • Rebranding and relaunching to give real employees opportunities to tell their stories.
  • Provide education emails for employees that happen well before an activation is needed so they have a chance to learn and experience messaging about the issue before taking action.
  • Use videos for education campaigns
  • Remember to link to relevant coalitions if they have information you can be sharing in order to not double your own workload.
  • A customized grassroots website service that recognized PAC or grassroots members and was pre-populated with legislators relevant to the user so they could easily write a letter or tweet.
  • When it comes back to it, it has to be true to your company and it has to work for your culture. A successful campaign comes from culture respect.
  • Working through trade associations helps companies provide education with minimal resources or when your company is not looking to be the leading voice.
  • It lends legitimacy to the issue, so it’s coming from someone that’s not the company