Friday, January 05, 2018

Reliability and Credibility Matter Most

Last month, we had the pleasure of listening to Dr. David Rehr present his Congressional Communications Report, and were left with valuable insights about the ways staff receive, value, and process information. Staff members in congressional offices are often young and new to their roles. As a result, they increasingly value credible and reliable information. Contrary to public perceptions, staffers place little value in the reputation of the person or group seeking to meet them, and even less in campaign contributions. They simply want you to provide reliable and trustworthy information. Regardless of political party, they are more likely to almost always consult constituents, as opposed to lobbyists or the national press.

As someone organizing Lobby Days, what does that tell you? If your advocates are prepared, engaging, and follow-up, they can build relationships and become the most effective outreach tool in your arsenal. 100% of Legislative Assistants said they were influenced be reliable information, and nearly as many said they were influenced by concise arguments and face-to-face meetings. Only 6% of Legislative Assistants said mass-email campaigns swayed them. When visiting Capitol Hill, bring informed and knowledgeable advocates who will follow-up, but make sure that they never pretend to know something they don’t. Staff members are busy; if you can make their lives easier, you can influence them.

- By Jared Payne

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

They're Back!

It’s January 3rd and Congress has returned to town for the beginning of the 2nd Session of the 115th Congress. With the midterms in November, a packed legislative agenda and two newly sworn-in Senators, 2018 should be full of surprises. The calendar below shows when they’ll be in DC—and when you can see them at home! 

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Welcome to 2018!

As we journey into 2018, a new session of Congress, and a new Lobby Day season, take a look at some New Year’s resolutions for advocates from a previous podcast.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Consider DC’s Fall Leaves More When Scheduling Lobby Days

With the holiday season and year’s end upon us, we cannot over emphasize just how busy this December has been on the Hill. Traditionally, associations send their advocates to Washington in the spring to meet with congressional offices about their legislative and budget priorities, at a time when Congress is theoretically working through the budget process.

Of course, Washington tends to stick to the script less each year. This year, Congress has done some of its most consequential work in the months since returning after Labor Day. Congress has spent December working on tax reform, health care, and government funding. Legislators will likely be in the Capitol until the weekend before Christmas- and may be returning before New Year’s Eve.

According to a recent study by Dr. David Rehr, 66% of organizations are now hosting a DC Lobby Day. Lobby Days are an incredibly valuable advocacy tool, but not everyone can visit DC in the middle of March. If you want to save on hotel costs, make logistics easier, and make your Lobby Day message stand out, consider Lobby Days in September through December.

In many recent years, the pace of business has increased in November or December (as opposed to March or April), yet the hallways of the Capitol remain less crowded. With less competition for the valuable finite time of congressional offices, you may find your advocates’ words are more likely to be heard in autumn. 

- By Jared Payne

Monday, December 11, 2017

Resources for a busy month on the Hill

While the weather is turning colder and snowier, Congress is still in session and busy with the tax reform conference committee and an upcoming deadline on government funding. Here are a couple more resources to help keep you in the know about Capitol Hill:

Represent, by ProPublica: Represent is a tool to track upcoming and recent Congressional votes, as well as information on each member’s votes and sponsored legislation. This resource also organizes floor statements by member, and allows you to quickly search the Congressional Record, press quotes, op-eds, and video, by key term, to see which members are talking about your issues.

Town Hall, by Facebook: Town Hall is a tool that uses your home address to provide links to the Facebook pages of each of your elected representatives, from the local level up to the federal level, all in one page. Facebook also provides the correct phone number and email address to allow you to easily contact them. Simply search “Town Hall” in your Facebook search bar to locate the feature.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Join Us and Have Some Fun with Fly-Ins

A fly-in can be one of the most effective ways to motivate adovates and get your message across to Capitol Hill. It can also be one of the most stressful experiences of your career – or possibly even your life. Join this session on December 8th at 12pm to gain some tips and techniques for reducing stress and increasing effectiveness. Register here:

We’ll look at:
  • ·         Streamlined, efficient structures for registering advocates and scheduling meetings.
  • ·         How to craft policy compelling materials that will influence advocates and legislators alike.
  • ·         What advocates need to know to be prepared (it’s not what you think)!
  • ·         The role social media and electronic communications can play in marking, or breaking, your event.
  • ·         Best strategies to encourage advocates to connect with policymakers in district.
  • ·         Different options for small, medium, and large events and how to choose.
  • ·         Types of events you can include in a fly-in, including events in district.

The panelists for this session have decades of grassroots experience in Washington, DC. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from their successes (and mistakes). You’ll come away with an actionable path for your next event, as well as exclusive access to our follow-up video course.

Confirmed Panelists:
  • ·         Moderator: Stephanie Vance
  • ·         Monika Geraci, Recreational Vehicle Industry Association
  • ·         Matt Wright, Children’s Hospital Association
  • ·         Randy Ford, National Write Your Congressman

Thursday, November 30, 2017

More Capitol Hill Resources for a Busy December

With today’s Senate vote on their tax bill, it seems like an ideal time to pass along a couple additional tools for monitoring legislative movement on Capitol Hill.

Committee webpages: 

The webpages for congressional committees contain a wealth of information, including live video links for hearings and mark-ups.  In DC, interested parties used to pay young professionals to line up early in the morning to reserve spots in the committee hearing room, but the wonders of the Internet have made it possible for anyone to follow most hearings online. On these sites, you will also find committee reports, archived hearings, transcripts, documents, and press releases. Political views on these websites are going to be reflective of the Republican Party, since they control both chambers, but each website will also include a link to a page or site for the Democratic Party.

List of House Committee Websites:
List of Senate Committee Websites:

Congress App: 

We have previously mentioned this App, which was produced by the Sunlight Foundation until recently. While no longer managed by the Sunlight Foundation, it's still an excellent pocket resource for all Android phone users, including information on floor votes, bills, and hearing schedules. All information for the App is provided by ProPublica, a nonprofit organization focused on investigative journalism. 


This is a nationwide tracking tool for iPhone and Android that has information on legislation, legislators, and hearings for state legislatures, as well as Congress. This App allows you to search by policy area and save searches for later.

Government Looking Glass: 

This relatively new App for iPhone users provides information about congressional legislation. Using information from a variety of sources (VoteSmart, ProPublica, Open States, and the Sunlight Foundation), this tool determines an overall score for members based on your position on a range of policy issues, while also providing contact links to tell your representatives how you feel about these issues.

IPhone Link: