Here’s something that many schools of political science don’t teach: in addition to traditional lobbying, you’ve got to have a strong digital strategy.
While elected officials are receiving information from you, they are also taking in messages from many sources online just like the rest of us. And if you’re advocating for policies that go against powerful interests, they are likely hearing from a cacophony of well-paid lobbyists that oppose your message.
You can rely on a mix of traditional media and social platforms to get your message out:
- Work with an impacted client or family to create a short 15-30 second video explaining why change is needed. Make sure to compensate them for their time (Amazon gift cards are loved by all) and provide media training before releasing their story publicly.
- In addition to your traditional roll call, create a list of social media handles for the legislators you need to reach. Once you’ve added all of them to your network, share the video you made in addition to other stories highlighting the need for change.
- Run a targeted social media campaign for legislators, influencers, and other decision-makers. It’s more affordable than you think, and you can make sure your message is seen by the right people.
- Use social media to help your supporters take action. Run a targeted social ad campaign to your supporters and their neighbors asking them to contact their elected officials to push your legislation forward.
- Consider which sources your legislators are listening to. Not all news outlets have the same audience and reputation. Make a list of papers, radio stations, and online news sources that will help you reach your target audience.
- Create a list of important dates, and have press release templates ready for all of them. Your bill introduction date, eventual committee hearing, and committee passage are a good start.
- Reach out to reporters who have written about your issue before. They’ve shown interest in the topic, and are good people to share stories with from the impacted families you’re working with.
Nothing beats meeting with legislators in person and educating them on how your issue is impacting their voters. However, without a strong digital strategy, your message will get lost in the shuffle.
Trust me, your opponents have a digital strategy – and you should too.