It’s been a frenetic legislative session in Minnesota and exceptional in many ways, from the record-breaking $17.5 billion budget surplus to the introduction of 3,200+ pieces of legislation. After almost three years, in-person advocacy is back, as both the House and Senate operate fully in person.
This has been great news for many advocates trying to make an impact on the legislative process. Days at the Capitol can be a valuable way for members of an organization, employees, and other advocates to show up and express support (or opposition) for bills and policy priorities. But it’s not just about rallies and making noise – meeting with legislators one-on-one is the most effective way to influence policy.
To get the most out of a Day at the Capitol, here are the key ingredients we recommend to our clients to maximize impact:
- Understand your why. We challenge clients to articulate specifically why they are interested in a Day at the Capitol – is it for building organizational capacity? Influencing policy? Growing public awareness? Answers to these questions help identify goals for the day and keep focus.
- Plan ahead. Set a date at least a few months in advance to get it on the schedule and reserve physical meeting space.
- Use concise messages. Get to the point quickly so legislators understand what is important to you and why. One-on-one meetings are usually 15 minutes and might occur in a hallway. Prepare easy-to-understand talking points with persuasive facts and arguments, as well as a clear call to action.
- Make sure you’re reaching your legislator. Legislators are much more likely to engage and be responsive to their constituents. When you’re setting up your Day at the Capitol, match attendees to their legislators while requesting meetings. If you don’t have a constituent “match” for a key legislator, consider another avenue to engage them, like inviting them to speak with the group or a personalized letter or email.
- Bring catchy visuals. Images are powerful, so be intentional with signs, posters, buttons or other visuals.
- Assign a photographer to capture the day’s events. Make a shot list of key meetings and people to photograph. If you take a picture with a legislator, offer to send it to them after.
- Plan a social media strategy. Not only should you have a plan for promoting your Day at the Capitol on social media both in advance of and during the event, but build a campaign around your advocacy throughout the legislative session. Develop a hashtag or use photos and graphics from your event to build awareness at key points for your legislation.
- Include advocates who can’t attend in person. It can be a challenge for Minnesotans outside of the metro area to attend a Day at the Capitol during typical business hours. Make sure your day reaches folks who can’t be there in person through email campaigns, social media strategies and internal communications.
- Don’t forget to say thank you. Thank legislators for their time during the visit and follow up with any information or resources that came up during your discussion. And remind them of your priorities as key deadlines approach.
- Make your day live on. Your Day at the Capitol shouldn’t be the last time your advocates engage with lawmakers. Build an actionable strategy for your advocates to use throughout the year to continue the conversation with legislators.
Check out some of our clients’ 2023 Days at the Capitol!