Tips for Grassroots Success at the Local Level
Grassroots activities are best started at the local level in the office of the Member of Congress or the state legislature. Any person or group can start the process by requesting a meeting with the senior staff member. Once the appointment is set, it's best to send a description of your organization or association so the staff has an opportunity to prepare for the meeting.
On the day of the meeting, arrive early. Talk with the receptionist while leaving your business card and a copy of your brief materials.
If more than one person attends from an organization, arrange beforehand who will present which part of the message, and be sure to provide local illustrations to support your points. Listen carefully to the staff member's responses. Commit those responses to paper and pass along the information to your organization or association's State Legislative Director.
Decide on a specific person to conclude the meeting by repeating the purpose of the visit and finishing the meeting on a positive note. Leave behind your organizational profile and/or something that details your group's legislative goals.
Typically, the first visit is a get-acquainted session while succeeding meetings become increasingly more specific in their legislative policy objectives.
After the meeting, send a thank you note to the local staff member with a copy to the Member of Congress or the state legislature. Mark on your calendar a date three months later at which time you should send a letter to the staff with some additional information and documentation. At six months, invite the staff member to some local function you are organizing.
At every stage, maintain notes on the issues you discuss and the staff member's position on those issues. In addition, develop a list of the information that you've provided to the staff member. Fax a copy of this information to your organization or association's coordinator or to your Washington government affairs office and/or the State Legislative Director, if your group is large enough to have one.
Kevin Gottlieb & Associates, Inc.
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