Capitol Hill Strategy
Crafting Your Message to Influence Policy
In Capitol Hill's ever-changing (and sometimes turbulent) legislative environment, educating policymakers on your organization's issue can be challenging. With the thousands of advocacy groups vying for legislators' attention, getting your association's voice heard can be challenging. Not only are you competing with other groups, legislators and their staffers are often swamped and don't have time for lengthy briefings.
Here are a few tips on how to cut through constituent clutter to get your message heard:
Package Your Message for Quick Consumption
Ensuring that your message is heard greatly depends on your ability to package your messages in a clear, concise, but convincing, manner. One way to do this to summarize your issue in an effective backgrounder. In doing so, note the following:
- Make it brief. Limit your backgrounder to 2-3 pages and be careful to make it focused. Do not attempt to address too many issues in one document. If your campaign is centered around several critical issues, create a backgrounder on each issue.
- Make it scannable. Make your backgrounder is scannable by underscoring high level messages to communicate key points. These points should be made visible in headers, sub headers, call outs and bulleted lists.
- Make it interesting. Integrate statistics to support your case and keep readers interested. In doing so, use infographics to tell the story behind the data. Since readers typically gravitate to graphics, incorporating charts, graphs and illustrations will ensure that critical points won’t be missed.
Video messaging is one of the most effective ways to deliver a campaign message. It’s visual, it’s dynamic, and it’s highly portable. To make sure your video message is impactful, don’t be shy:
- Get emotional and tell a compelling story.
- Include gripping testimonials and quotes from influencers.
- Tell legislators what you want. Include a call to action.
Rally (and Engage) the Troops
Enlisting the support of constituents is a sure-fire way to get a legislator’s attention. The key is to equip your troops with the arsenal they need. At minimum, you want to make sure your troops have:
- Talking points to make sure everyone’s on message;
- A customizable sample letter to fuel a robust letter writing campaign;
- Background material to share with elected officials, staffers, and other influencers; and an
- Online rallying place (i.e. campaign website) that he/she can reference.
These are just a few simple tips that, if employed properly, can help your organization gain the attention of elected officials. The key is to be strategic in your planning and tactical in your execution.