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LOBBY: your legislator

There is nothing more powerful that person-to-person contact. If you have the opportunity to go and talk to your representatives in person, you can put a human face to your issue, have a conversation, and make a change!

LOBBYING

Why do it?

There is nothing more powerful that person-to-person contact.  If you have the opportunity to go and talk to your representatives in person, you can:

  • Put a human face to your issue.
  • Hear what they have to say about the issue, have a conversation rather than just make demands. 

Do:

  1. Your homework.  The more you know about your issue, the person you are talking to, and their district, the better. 
  2. Pack your bag!  It helps to come prepared with compelling visuals like pictures, simple charts, and maps.  If you can leave these items behind, all the better!
  3. Smile.  It keeps you friendly, open, and calm.
  4. Treat everyone with respect, the secretary is just as important as the congressperson.  Even if you don’t agree with the representative on an issue, you can both learn from each other.
  5. Make a connection.  Legislators often fill their offices with hometown references like posters from events and sports paraphernalia.  It helps to make a connection to something from the place they represent to establish common ground.
  6. Tell your story.  People love stories.  They relate to them through empathy.  Telling a story can be the most effective way to convince your audience of your point and make them care.  
  7. Give examples to illustrate your points.
  8. Stay on track.  Lay out your reasons for coming and try to stick to them.  This is YOUR time with the representative.
  9. Be honest.  If you don’t know something, don’t make it up!  Simply say that you’re not sure and can get back to them soon (ideally tomorrow) make sure you keep their card so you can follow-up.
  10. Say thank you.
  11. Follow up!  It’s not over when you leave the room.  As soon as you finish a lobby visit, record the nuts and bolts of what happened and what you learned.  A thank-you note is a nice way of reinforcing your point, restate the commitment you made, and add anything you forgot to mention. 

 

Don’t

1.      Mention campaign information like how you voted or who you donated to, politicians are not allowed to discuss these matters with constituents.

2.     Be rude.  For example: yelling, cursing, answering your cell phone, slouching, wear pajamas etc.

3.     Read a script.  Speak from your heart!

 

Divide and Conquer:

If you are lobbying with a group of people, its important to divide tasks.  We suggest the following:

 

1.)   Storyteller: Should be a stakeholder (someone who has direct tie to what you’re talking about, ie: salmon fisherman from Bristol Bay in the case of Pebble Mine).

 

2.)  Questioner: Divide questions, someone should deliver “the ask” ie: “can we count on congresswoman ____ to support this bill?”

  

3.)  Note taker: Takes careful notes AFTER the visit, make sure to put down any commitments made.

 

4.)  Handout maven: This person should sit close to the person you’re visiting with and provide visuals aids like maps and charts at the appropriate time.  Be organized!

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