1 Minute: Tips to Talking to Elected Officials / Government

1 Minute: Tips to Talking to Elected Officials

DOs and DON'TS

 

In just one minute you will have tips to help you talk to elected leaders / goverment. Created from a LeaderEthics webinar called "Talking to Goverment Officials" featuring Rick Sense (Greater Green Bay Chamber of Commerce), Loren Kannenberg (retired, Cong. Ron Kind's office), Tony Palese (formerly Sen. Shilling's chief of staff, now with Alliant Energy)

"NOBODY CARRIES AN 'R' OR 'D' ON THEIR FOREHEAD

We don't care what party you belong to. We're here to provide services and have contact with your member of Congress. We did everything we could to be non-partisan in at least the district office." -- Loren Kannenberg (retired, Ron Kind's office)

  • RDOs
  • Monitor: sign up for emails, follow on social media
  • Be Factual
  • Time and thoughtfulness is reciprocated. If you filled out a form, you'll get a form back. If you were thoughtful and thorough, you are more likely to get that same level of response back.
  • Be grassroots vs. astroturf. Be in tune with people vs. automated. Be genuine of yourself, not an organization.
  • Build relationships, particularly with staff, before there is a problem or you need something. Often, they may tell you of something impacting your issue that you may need to research. At the federal level, you may be working with staff that are more subject experts who are advising the congressman.
  • Sending a form letter isn't bad, but it is the genuine contacts that make an impact.
  • Talk to your elected even if they are in the minority party. If they are doing their jobs well, they are building bridges across the aisle. It can take years for a good idea to get brought forward . In that time, a minority member may find themselves in the majority. It's often the long-game.
  • DON'TS
  • Make threats or be condescending
  • Assume an elected's position. Every bill is unique.
  • OBE AWARES
  • Legislation is rarely simple. The piece an elected wants is maybe 1% of a bill. Issues you can't support are part of the bill. It makes it harder to pass if there is a lot of negative pieces, especially in an omnibus situation.

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What are the barriers to engaging and speaking to elected officials / government?

"THE OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF CONTACTS ARE GENERALLY, I HATE TO SAY IT, BORING

-- an administrative or bureaucratic adjustment that needs to be made." -- Tony Paiese (Sen. Jennifer Shillings former Chief of Staff, now with Alliant Energy)

Vicki Markussen
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Author: Vicki Markussen

CEO/Founder, Engage Greater La Crosse

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