The 4 C’s of Effective Advocacy During COVID-19

During a conversation last week with veteran lobbyists about how COVID-19 will impact advocacy, it became clear that there are four keys to effectively advocating your member’s concerns in 2021 and beyond: Contacts, Conciseness, Coalitions, and Communication.  We were shooting an episode on this topic for Partners’ video-blog, Association Peeps in Cubicles Drinking Coffee, and while the conversation touched on many topics, those four threads were woven throughout. 

Contacts: Establishing contacts and relationships with elected officials and staff is the time-tested key to successful advocacy.  I know you’re probably thinking, it’s all about “who knows who” and that hasn’t changed.  What has changed, however, is that COVID-19 has caused the near-lockdown of many state capitols. For example, in the past you may have been able to set a meeting with a legislator you didn’t know. The chance of doing that in 2021 is severely diminished if not eliminated altogether.  Associations and non-profits need to up their grassroots ground game and have their members connecting and reconnecting with legislators ASAP to cement and build those relationships so the call will be taken or the text will be responded to when it comes. If you’re in Florida, you have 5 weeks to get that done! Don’t forget about committee, agency and legislative staff.

Conciseness: Being concise should go without saying when dealing with elected officials. They are expected to be knowledgeable and informed on a vast number of topics.  They simply cannot read everything.  Are they more likely to read a single-spaced mini-dissertation or “5 Reasons Why House Bill 94263 is Bad for Consumers” in bulleted format?  Limited access to the capitol buildings and legislative offices means increased volumes of e-mails, text messages, phone calls, letters, etc.  So, leave out the minutia, communicate the key points, include links to supporting information and if they want more information they will contact you.

Coalitions:  The “intelligence” typically gathered when lobbyists and association staff run across each other in the halls of capitol buildings, at lunch across the street, etc., will be significantly diminished. Coalitions of interest groups, whether they be industry-based groups, groups with common interest in a single piece of legislation, etc., are increasingly important in this new environment. The ability to compare notes on conversations with committee staff, legislative aides, legislators, executive agency staff and the like needs to be maintained.  Strong coalitions can help accomplish that goal.

Communication: The fourth “C” that is embedded in all three of above is Communication.  Conciseness is the “How” and the “What” you communicate.  Contacts and Coalitions are the “Who” you communicate with. The “When” is a delicate balance of timing based upon the pace of legislation and volume of information you need convey. Depending upon the strength of each relationship, you probably can only “fire a few bullets” before a legislator or key staffer may begin to ignore your pleas, so be judicious in your outreach. Coalition members on the other hand may need to convene daily or more frequently during the height of a legislative session and less frequently at others.  Slack, GroupMe, ZOOM and other technologies can assist here.  Take all of these factors into account when planning your communication logistics.

It is difficult to advance a legislative agenda during “normal” times.  2021 will prove to be even more challenging.  Heeding these 4 C’s will improve your chance for success. Good luck!

To Boldly Go Where Others Have Gone Before

By: William Ferguson

Which is more frightening to you? Being the first one to do something or following in someone else’s footsteps? Stepping into an established role brings more challenges than you might think at first. Earlier this year we partnered with a new association that was changing management right in the middle of on-going programs. This has been a very challenging, but highly rewarding, year for me. Keep reading for ideas on how to tackle taking on a position that had previously been filled. Continue reading “To Boldly Go Where Others Have Gone Before”

4 Things Your Members Expect from Your Association


Posted by Callie Walker, MemberClicks

People join associations for a number of reasons – professional development, networking opportunities, certifications and ongoing education, etc. But regardless of why they join, there are a few underlying expectations people have of your association – things they expect you to adhere to, regardless of size or industry. Continue reading “4 Things Your Members Expect from Your Association”

First 100 Days of Membership

By: Amy Bean Napier

All we hear and see right now on the news (print, online and social media) is about President Trump’s first 100 days in office.  We hear versions of what has been accomplished from both sides (pro and con) and see statistical comparisons of Trump’s first 100 days vs. past presidents.   This non-stop news blasting now has me thinking about our new members and their first 100 days with the association.

President Trump’s first 100 days equals only approximately 1/14th of his presidency term.  For most associations, memberships are billed annually so when a new member joins, they get 365 days of membership.   A new member’s first 100 days is basically 1/3 of their first year (term) as a member.  Continue reading “First 100 Days of Membership”

Complainers and Non-Members Calls– A Possibly Surprising Membership Opportunity

By: Eric Thorn

Almost anyone who has contact with association members has had a call where the caller is a member that wants to complain or the caller has a request or complaint but the caller isn’t even a member of your association.

Because these calls are often challenging and time consuming, it can be very tempting to simply spend as little time on these callers as possible and get back to the numerous other pressing or more pleasant work tasks that you are working on.  Continue reading “Complainers and Non-Members Calls– A Possibly Surprising Membership Opportunity”

Email Etiquette – 5 Simple Tips to Improve your Email Communication

By: Deborah Mandel

With today’s communication being largely technology based, there are certain protocols that one must follow. Just like with phone calls and in-person communication, when emailing in a work capacity, we want to make sure that we come across as courteous, knowledgeable, and professional. Email being what it is, sometimes it’s easy for you to be misunderstood or for people to take a different meaning from what you are trying to say.

Here are the mistakes that I most often see: Continue reading “Email Etiquette – 5 Simple Tips to Improve your Email Communication”

How would you define CUSTOMER SERVICE?

By: Beth Evarts

Customer Service is the art of human contact on many levels. It is about recognizing another human being, providing a positive exchange between two people and embracing the impact you have on that other person.  Human interaction with others can be life altering at home and at work if you just take the time to consider your actions and how you deliver them.

Ask yourself who you are! Just a simple gesture of saying hello with a genuine smile can be enough.  Take time to make a simple gesture like this every day.  Each time take it a step further, because the more contact you challenge yourself to, the more comfortable you become at it. Continue reading “How would you define CUSTOMER SERVICE?”