How to Communicate with Legislative Staff During the COVID-19 Era
By Christian Healy, Account Manager
As we now enter into the winter season, millions of Americans continue to work from home as COVID-19 cases persist across the United States and most congressional, and state legislative offices remain shuttered for the foreseeable future. However, in an industry centered around building relationships and constant communication, companies and organizations must reevaluate their traditional methods of interacting with staff on Capitol Hill or in state capitols especially following an election that will lead to significant staff turnover and new members being sworn into office.
In a crisis, communication is key, and in an environment during which healthcare, taxes, trade, and multi-trillion-dollar stimulus packages are at the crux of the legislative calendar amidst a pandemic, it is imperative to evolve beyond the prototypical in-person advocacy efforts that for decades presided over lunches and evening fundraisers. Staff are the gatekeepers to senators and representatives, and it is critical to maximize your company or organization’s education of staff on the issues that are important to you.
Below are several enhanced engagement tactics that allow you to educate and engage with staff without being able to meet in person:
- Sending a Monthly E-Blast: Every staffer focuses on a range of legislative topics from Financial Services and Tax Policy to Telecommunications and Housing. Targeted E-Blast campaigns are effective ways of ensuring that the infographics, one-pagers, background briefs, and research white papers you create make it in front of the personal office and Committee staff advising members on key policy decisions.
- Hosting Webinars and Virtual Events: Given the current work from home setting, many staffers are no longer juggling answering phones, staffing committee hearings, or racing to the House or Senate floor to make sure their boss votes. Now more than ever, staffers have the time and flexibility to attend a policy briefing which were a staple of the lunch hour during the pre COVID-19 period.
- Engaging in Digital Promotion: Want to make sure staffers are aware of your policy priorities, even when they may be working from home across the country? Using geotargeting data, a digital promotional campaign can target the devices of individuals who were near state and federal capitol complexes months ago. This ensures that the right people are seeing your ads no matter where they are physically.
- Partner with Key Opinion Leaders: Nothing is more important to a policymaker than the wellbeing of their constituents. Opinion editorials in local publications authored by small business owners and their employees, industry executives, state and local officials, or major employers play a significant role in telling the member what is on the minds of their constituents and those that play a critical role in their re-election. And if the member is aware, I can guarantee you, as a former staffer myself, it won’t be long until their staff is too.
- Activate Third-Party Groups: There are a multitude of organizations at the national and local levels that advocate for a variety of issues while conducting research and analysis of policy. By partnering with one of these organizations, you can tap into their vast grassroots network to generate white papers, launch a social media campaign, send coalition letters, and create heightened direct advocacy through constituent letter-writing campaigns with policymakers.
THG helps clients leverage these tactics in order to establish and continue the relationships necessary during these tumultuous times to deliver results for your company or organization. As this public health crisis carries on into 2021, only those entities that continue to innovate the way in which they operate and communicate will have their voices heard and come out on the other side better off.