Happy New Year!

This last week of the year is my planning week to reflect and set goals for the new year. And I love to read what people share on social media about their goals. There always seems to be a spirit of optimism and commitment that the upcoming year is going to be theirs for the taking. Hopefully for you it is the same!

But if there’s anything I’ve learned over many years of doing this is to make those goals realistic, and avoid the temptation to set too many or make them too lofty. As a speaker and consultant on advocacy I share that same advice with my clients and audiences. it can be very easy to say, “Okay…this is the year I really get engaged!”

And while that’s quite laudable, is it realistic? As with your other goals, keeping it simple and doable within your busy schedule may be just the formula you need to discover at the end of 2020 you have become or continue to be the successful advocate that’s making a difference in your community.

So here’s to 2020. May it be your best year yet!

Your Partner in Advocacy…Kathy

#YourJourneyStartsToday

It’s That Time of Year Again!

Every December, I spend the last week of the month developing my business and personal goals for the new year. For me it’s the perfect time to “decompress” after the holiday and start the next year refreshed and refocused.

For advocates, I encourage you to do the same thing. But as can happen when setting goals, we “go big” to start the year, but quickly discover we’ve over-committed, or made those goals too lofty. Been there…done that!

So as someone who has experienced that frustration, I’d like to share an excerpt from my book, A Journey To Yes, that will help you develop a very doable plan that will have you celebrating success at the end of 2020! I call it, Kathy’s Cannons for Influence Planning. By clicking on this link, you’ll get access to a printable PDF copy you can refer to over and over again.

Happy Planning!

Your Partner in Advocacy…Kathy

#YourJourneyStartsToday

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Prayer – Ralph Waldo Emerson 

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

For flowers that bloom about our feet;
For tender grass, so fresh, so sweet;
For song of bird, and hum of bee;
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones from,

Your Partner in Advocacy…Kathy

#YourJourneyStartsToday

 

An Important Member of Your Advocacy Team

Often when thinking about advocacy and advocating for your community, business or organization, the person(s) that comes to mind is the legislator. Obviously they are quite important, and the ultimate decision makers when voting on issues affecting your communities. However, there is another very important group of people that deserve as much of your time and attention as the lawmaker themselves. And that is their staff!

These individuals are much more than just an employee. They are often a confidant, advisor and influencer when it comes time for legislators to:

1. Decide how to vote
2. Decide what bills to file
3. Decide to request appropriations
4. Fully understand the impact of legislation (develop talking points)
5. Draft bill language
6. Debate bills in committee

So look for opportunities to really build a relationship with them for the benefit of your organization, city or small business. Below are some examples:

  1. For local governments – Initiate a quarterly meeting with city senior staff (or town manager/clerk) with the lawmakers’ legislative aides for the purpose of keeping them up-to-date on activities within your town.
  2. Send them a thank you note, recognizing them for their service.
  3. If it’s been awhile since they’ve visited your facilities, invite them for a tour and conversation to keep bring them up-to-date on the challenges or opportunities you’re experiencing.

And above all, always treat them with the respect they deserve. These are hardworking men and women that, like their lawmakers, truly want to make a difference in their communities.

Your Partner in Advocacy…Kathy

#YourJourneyStartsToday

What’s Your Story?

If you had ten minutes to share your story (or that of your community, business or organization) with your lawmakers, what would you say that could convince them to help you?

So often I hear people share they believe politicians don’t listen and have already made up their minds on an issue. THIS ISN’T TRUE! In fact, it’s exactly the opposite.

Legislators seek out opportunities to help their constituents. But they can’t help you if they don’t hear from you. And frankly they are expecting you to talk to them and share the challenges (and opportunities) you’re experiencing so they CAN help you.

If you have ever listened to lawmakers share stories during committee meetings, on the floor of their respective chamber or on the campaign trail to reinforce their position on an issue or bill, they often start by sharing a story from a family, small business owner, veteran, constituent, and the like. They don’t make up these stories…they come from people just like you! So make sure they know and understand yours.

Your Partner in Advocacy…Kathy

#YourJourneyStartsToday

Put It in Writing!

One question I’m often asked by advocates is if letters or resolutions of support really make a difference. And my answer is always the same…“Yes”!

When lawmakers are presenting and debating bills in their state capital, they always appreciate knowing that people from “back home” support what they are doing. But so often their inbox only gets full when people want them to oppose something.

And while it’s perfectly fine to share your objection, you can’t stop there! A letter, email or resolution of support lets them know they’re not fighting alone, especially when that  support comes directly from their constituents.

But before you start writing, spend a few moments answering the following question so you can share this information in specific detail with your lawmakers:

  1. How will this legislation positively impact me, my business, city or organization? Some great examples include:
    1. For small businesses – I can hire more employees, give them a raise, expand their benefits, open a second location, etc.
    2. For organizations – We can expand our scope of services or the population we serve (feed more families, build more houses, etc.)
    3. For local governments – We can put more money in reserves, streamline services or operations, reduce our millage, etc.

In our on-going conversation about pro-active advocacy, sharing your support (in writing) is the perfect opportunity to continue on your journey to yes!

Your Partner in Advocacy…Kathy

#YourJourneyStartsToday

Is It Time for One Final Tour?

As I shared in last week’s post, advocacy is much more fun if done proactively! So let’s continue with that theme and focus on another strategy for engaging those you are trying to influence for the purpose of informing and collaborating for the benefit of your business, organization or community.

If you’ve never, or if it’s been a long time, NOW is the time to invite lawmakers for a tour. So often they share that seeing really is believing and essential in helping them make informed decisions.

This is especially true if you’re referencing your business, community or organization when you communicate. If they’ve seen it and talked with your staff or volunteers, they will have a much better understanding and appreciation of the “why and how”.

But don’t just do this once! This is especially true if you’re asking for their financial help. In many states, legislators have to prove why they are asking for money and how it will benefit not only their district but the state in general. It’s much easier for them to do that if they have an in-depth knowledge (and can share with their colleagues) their reasons for the request.

And if they are successful in obtaining appropriations for you, it’s an absolute must that you:

  1. Say, “thank you” in a big way!
  2. Keep them apprised of when you receive funding and how it is being used.
  3. Provide them periodic updates on how the money has benefitted your industry, organization or community.

Making pro-active advocacy part of your plan for influencing leaders can put you on a journey that will lead you to success and get the “yes” you are looking for!

Your Partner in Advocacy…Kathy

#YourJourneyStartsToday

 

A Major Player on the Team

The legislative staff. Often when thinking about advocacy and advocating for your town, small business or organization, the person(s) that comes to mind is the legislator. Obviously they are quite important, and the ultimate decision makers when voting on issues affecting your communities or ability to serve your customers or clients. However, there is another very important group of people that deserve as much of your time and attention as the lawmaker themselves. And that is their staff!

These individuals are much more than just an employee. They are often a confidant, advisor and influencer when it comes time for legislators to:

1. Decide what bills to file.
2. Decide to request appropriations.
3. Fully understand the impact of legislation (develop talking points).
4. Draft bill language, and;
5. Debate bills in committee.

So how can you include them in your advocacy plan? Here’s a fantastic, proven strategy!

Initiate a quarterly meeting with your senior staff and the lawmakers’ legislative aides for the purpose of keeping them up-to-date on activities within your industry, organization, town or business. And if you have a store front or corporate offices, this is also the perfect time for a quick tour! This strategy keeps participants (especially the aide) advised of what is happening and a chance to talk about your greatest challenges or  opportunities to work together.

Lastly…THIS is how good legislation becomes a reality and how pre-emptions or unfunded mandates are prevented.  And take it from someone who’s been involved in advocacy for over 15 years…it’s much more fun to focus on being a pro-active advocate vs. only reacting to the bad!

Your Partner in Advocacy…Kathy

#YourJourneyStartsToday

 

It’s Time to Say, “Thank You”

We all love to be appreciated right? It’s what motivates us to go that extra mile in our professional or personal lives. But how often do we really acknowledge and extend appreciation to our political leaders? Surprisingly, (and sadly) they will tell you it is very rare.

But YOU have the power to change that! Whether you are an elected leader or a constituent, if it’s been awhile or this is the first time, the time is NOW to say, “thank you for your service”

A strategy ANYONE can do in just a few minutes, below is a sample email you can use verbatim! And this is also a great strategy to begin or advance your relationship in a spirit of cooperation and collaboration with those you are trying to influence.

Dear Senator/Representative _____,

Thank you for your public service to the residents of _____________ (insert House or Senate district number here). As a constituent in ______ (insert your specific neighborhood or street name here), I wanted to congratulate you on your committee assignments and wish you much success as you continue to serve. 

If there is anything I or my (city/town/village/company, firm, association) can do to assist you or your staff, I hope you won’t hesitate to contact me.

Respectfully,
Your Name, Title
City/Phone/Email

Even if you don’t support or agree with your elected leaders here’s some food for thought. You rarely drown or get lost in the crowd when you take the high road!

Your Partner in Advocacy…Kathy

#YourJourneyStartsToday

A Report You’ll Actually Want to Write (and Use)!

If you’re like me, the thought of having to write a report takes me back to some not-so-pleasant memories from my school days! Meeting those deadlines, deciding what to write about, doing the research…yuck, right? And after I turned it in, that was it. Never saw it (or truth be told), never wanted to see it again!

However back when I was an elected official, I decided to give it another try and began preparing what I call a Pre-Session Legislative Report for my state lawmakers. And surprisingly I discovered that not only did I enjoy writing it, but it became a very valuable advocacy tool as I took another step along my advocacy journey. Here’s why…

A better, more focused advocate – When I decided to prepare the report, I knew I had to focus on only few issues (3 at most) affecting my city. Thus, the time spent doing research and data collection really helped me learn the issues, which helped me become a better advocate. And the time I spent presenting the report was an opportunity to ask for what I wanted for my city and offer help and support to my lawmakers during the upcoming session.

Informed Legislators – Once presented, they knew (and hopefully) understood in detail my top priorities for advocacy in the upcoming session and why I had chosen them. And they also knew when they heard from me is was going to be about one of those issues. Also, it provided them with valuable information they could reference if and when related legislation was filed. And if they couldn’t support my city’s position, this was an opportunity for them to tell me early on in the process so I didn’t waste their time or mine trying to follow-up or persuade them otherwise.

A Great Resource for the Staff – The report provided them with information they could incorporate into talking point for their boss, and now had all of my contact information for any additional follow-up. And I assured them that if/when related legislation was filed, they could count on me to keep the report current.

So what should you include in the report on each issue and how long should it be? Here’s a quick list to help you get started:

  1. The fiscal impact (positive or negative) of the issues or legislation. Lawmakers ALWAYS want to know this!
  2. A status report with basic information such as a bill number, sponsor, co-sponsors, committees of reference and committee outcomes (if applicable).
  3. A list of any known opponents for each issue. Legislators know that for every supporter, there is always an opponent. If you know who they are list them in the report. You don’t have to go into detail about their position, but at least know why they are in opposition in case you’re asked.
  4. Ask for what you want. Providing the info is great, but that’s all it is if you don’t make the ask! (BTW – Legislators will be expecting you to do this.)
  5. Lastly, prepare a cover letter highlighting what’s included with all of your contact information.
  6. While there’s no specified length for the report, a really good measurement is one to two pages per issue. If it’s too long they won’t read it, but it needs to be long enough to share all the necessary information.

Want to learn more? Be sure to check out a copy of my book, A Journey To Yes to get the answers you need design a great report that will help you stand out from the crowd!

Your Partner in Advocacy…Kathy

#YourJourneyStartsToday

 

 

 

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