State Lobby Day - 5 Easy Steps
In This Section
Step 1: Schedule Your Lobby Visit
The first step in planning your lobby day is scheduling the day for your meetings, and then requesting meetings from you elected representatives. Since members' schedules often fill up quickly, it's best to contact them as soon as possible.
Here's how to schedule your visit:
- Find your state Assembly Member/Representative and State Senator.
- Send them a meeting request by email or fax to the scheduler in your representative's office.
- Follow-up on your invitation by calling the scheduler in your representative's office. Remember to be polite and flexible. The more flexible you and your group are, the more likely your representative will be able to meet.
Step 2: Recruit Your Industry Colleagues to Participate
Recruit your state's MBA members and Mortgage Action Alliance, Inc.® (MAA) members to participate by getting the word out.
Here are some suggestions for spreading the word:
- Send special emails to your members, and work with MAA and MBA to make sure their members are being reached as well in your communications.
- Post information to your state MBA's website and share that link with your members.
- Hold informational conference calls; and, make the case for advocacy in general and your specific lobby day at your regular association meetings.
If there are people who cannot make it to the meeting but want to be a part of the campaign, ask them to write a letter reflecting the themes for your lobby day, and to mention the upcoming visits that your association will be doing.
Step 3: Prepare and Practice for Your Visit
Do Your Homework - Check to see if your Assembly Member/Representative and Senator have supported or opposed key industry legislation in the current of previous legislative sessions. If they have voted in favor of industry-supported legislation, be sure to thank them during your visit. If they have not, respectfully disagree with them, explain why, and ask them for their support in the future.
Hold a Pre-Lobby Day Conference Call - Set up a conference call a week or two before your meeting for everyone participating on the lobbying visits. Get MAA and MBA involved to help with the presentation on the call (contact William Kooper, firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance). The purpose is to review lobbying basics/training, your lobby day talking points and strategy, and to make sure everyone has and understands the materials in your lobby day "leave behind" and what you will be asking for. This is also a good time to make sure everyone understands their Lobby Day schedule and how you will splitting up to handle all the appointments. Lastly, you will also want to arrange for your group to meet somewhere close to the legislative offices approximately 30 minutes before your meeting for review.
Confirm - You should confirm your meeting with the member's office a couple days before your visit. At that time, you could start a discussion of future contact or meeting with the representative's staff to follow up on the member's commitments.
Step 4: Conduct your meeting
Keep the following in mind when you meet.
- Ask to see the member or staff with whom your appointment has been made.
- Be prompt, but be prepared to wait.
- Introduce yourself, even if you have met the member before, and pass along any personal news from the district.
- Get to the purpose of your visit quickly. Tell the member why you are there and what legislative action you want the member to take.
- Discuss a limited number of issues. Be honest, brief and factual.
- Leave detailed information for the member of staff.
- Always be polite and pleasant regardless of the circumstances.
- Offer to be of assistance.
- Thank the member for any past support of any industry-supported legislation as well as for their valuable time.
You Should Not
- Be late.
- Be impatient.
- Assume the member will know or remember you.
- Waste a member's time.
- Give the member too much material.
- Underestimate the influence of the staff. The member, who often has insufficient time to focus in great detail on issues, relies upon the staff.
- Be rude, argumentative, abrasive or make demands.
- Discuss campaign contributions.
Step 5: Follow-Up
One of the most important part of the lobby meeting is the follow-up that takes place afterward.
Here are some basic steps to follow-up on your meeting:
- Ask for a specific staff member to serve as a point of contact, and get contact information for that person.
- Set up a time with the staff contact to follow-up on commitments your representative made during the meeting.
- Invite your representative to speak to employees of your company.
- Attend the representative's future town hall meetings and ask questions.
Most importantly, write the member and staff person to thank them for seeing you. This provides an opportunity to clarify issues, ask a question that will elicit a response and build or foster an ongoing relationship.