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Don’t Let the August Recess Stop the Momentum of Your Advocacy Efforts

Posted by: Chamber Investor on Monday, July 13, 2015
Message from Jason Zacher, VP of Business Advocacy: We’re always reading and learning, and most of our ideas for blog posts come from ideas we run across. This blog post, from Greenville Chamber investors The Felkel Group by way of their RAP Index advocacy software was worth just reprinting in its entirety, rather than riffing off the ideas and quoting the blog a few times. While Chip Felkel focuses on the August Congressional recess, we focus our efforts here at the Chamber on our General Assembly. The General Assembly is in recess until January, but the advice Chip gives is exactly the same: This isn’t the time to relax on your advocacy. It’s time to crank it up. So, with that, I turn this blog post over to Chip: ____________________________________________________________________________________________ The month of August heralds a number of significant events on the American calendar. Summer is beginning to wind down. School is about to start back. The NFL is in Preseason mode. And Members of Congress (MOC) will be on a month-long sabbatical. The latter can be particularly frustrating for organizations that are trying to boost their advocacy efforts on key issues. “For many associations and groups, August has become a dead zone for advocacy,” says Chip Felkel, Founder and President of RAP Index, a revolutionary advocacy software that helps organizations of every shape and size leverage key personal relationships with policy makers. “Just because Congress is on recess, doesn’t mean you need to halt your advocacy efforts.” In fact, here are a few ideas to help you get creative and keep your advocacy momentum going forward during the month of August. Invite Members of Congress for a site visit Leverage your personal relationships with MOC and their staff. Select a well-connected stakeholder who can reach out directly to a policy maker to request a site visit and/or a meeting at the MOC’s district office. Meetings in the district office can often be less hectic and get more of the MOC’s attention than when they are back in DC. Get earned media on your issues in local papers This takes some marketing savvy, but if done right, earned media (as opposed to paid advertising) can be very effective while MOC are home in their district. Have willing stakeholders write letters to the editor or create op-eds that can be submitted to daily papers and news outlets. Look for intercept opportunities Recess doesn’t mean hibernation. During the month of August, many MOC visit with local Chambers of Commerce or other organizations in their districts. If that is the case, have select members that are involved with these organizations attend the meetings to ask questions and engage the policy maker. Present a PAC check to a MOC back in their district This is always welcomed. Members of Congress love receiving Political Action Committee (PAC) checks—they particularly like being presented with a PAC check by a constituent or someone they already know. Select a stakeholder who has a personal relationship with a policy maker, and have them deliver the PAC check at a private meet-and-greet or as part of one of the many fundraisers the MOC is probably having during the recess. Host a Town Hall Meeting An in-person meeting is always preferable, but a virtual meeting will work as well, and is certainly more convenient. This type of gathering will resonate with your organization’s dedicated stakeholders who are willing to engage on advocacy issues. Educate them on your top issues, and prepare them for your fall advocacy push. Flatter the Policy Makers Finding common ground with MOC is always helpful. Designate a team of members to explore key areas of agreement between strategically selected MOC and your organization. Show the MOC that you support them on these issues and can help highlight their position via key stakeholders. These are just a few ideas that can keep you busy and productive during the August recess. The key is to keep your members and the MOC engaged during this yearly recess so that your organization will have momentum when the break is over. If you have additional ideas of your own—or if you would like to discover other ways to drive advocacy efforts during the month of August—contact Chip Felkel at chip@rapindex.com. About the Author: Hollis "Chip" Felkel is an entrepreneur, veteran public affairs strategist with over twenty-five years of experience in national politics and policy. He is the creator and Chief Advocacy Innovator of The RAP Index, the leader in "disruptive advocacy". Felkel also serves as CEO of Felkel Group, a strategic communications firm focused on public policy issues offering guidance and counsel to senior decision-makers at all levels of business and government. A political campaign veteran, Chip Felkel began his career with Campbell for Governor (1986) and later served in management or advisory roles at the RNC and with three successful presidential campaigns. Felkel is a recognized as a knowledgeable, experienced observer of today's volatile political/public policy area with his opinions and views appearing regularly in both national and international media outlets. Today, Chip Felkel serves as the chair-elect of the Board of Visitors at his alma mater, the University of South Carolina. He resides in Greenville, SC.

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