At the very beginning of any legislative advocacy campaign the Push Advocacy team asks a lot of questions. We ask about the issue, the nature of the policy debate, key players, any other related legislation, and much more. We want to know as much as we can. But there are two very fundamental questions we always ask:
- What’s the bill number?
- What legislative districts are we targeting?
Our Advocacy team has worked on policy debates in 34 states this year. That’s 34 unique legislative environments and processes. Ultimately, the two most important things for our team to know are the bill number and your targets.
Because of our experience as “recovering” lobbyists, legislative caucus directors and campaign operatives, we actually read and understand the bills and can find our way around a state legislature website pretty easily. Except for Illinois’ legislature’s website. Yikes.
After we’ve done our reading and research, the first step for us is to focus on the messaging of our ads. Most encourage people to send messages, letters, emails or even call their legislators to take action either for or against the bill. And since legislators get a lot of information thrown at them every day, the best route is to keep it simple. Unless your bill has a nifty title like The Puppy Tax Repeal Act of 2019, stick with the bill number.
It’s best to include the bill number that you are supporting or opposing multiple times in the communications you’re generating for the campaign. constituent letters, phone calls and emails.
Then there is the Who? What legislative districts are we focusing on? Who needs to hear our message and take action?
We work closely with our client’s government affairs and lobbying teams and follow their lead to direct our focus. A bill’s subcommittee members need to hear from folks back home, we target their districts. And as the bill progresses through the legislative process, we adjust, making sure that we are always targeting the right lawmakers.
If you’re really doing your job right, you look forward to note from the lobbyist that says: “Phil, the Chairman’s wife likes the ads. He wants a meeting.”
While we work to know the ins and outs of the legislation we are supporting and advocating on behalf of, we know that keeping things simple in the digital space is a smart strategy. “What?” and his buddy “Who?” are keeping us on track for a successful legislative advocacy campaign.