New Year, New Congress

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2017 brings with it a lot of "new" things, from calendars and planners to resolutions, we all have our hands full. But, as advocacy professionals, we also need to set a new agenda for our organizations. The 115th Congress convenes this month and so begins a new year!

For anyone with public policy changes on their 2017 wish list, connecting with these new and returning legislators early on is key. After years of advocacy work, here are my tips for reaching them with your message:

  1. A phone call goes a long way. While phone calls may be out of style for millennials, they mean a lot to Congressional offices. It's awfully hard to ignore a phone ringing off the hook. Look for ways to mobilize your advocates to not only email their representatives but also to call them.
  2. Everybody tweets. In 2015, the Congressional Management Fund called Capitol Hill #SocialCongress. From freshmen representatives to the president-elect, everybody uses social media today. I recommend combining social media with a more traditional advocacy strategy. For example, ask your advocates to sign your petition and tweet about it. While social media by itself is sometimes ineffective, it can boost your other Congressional outreach efforts.
  3. Saying it in person says a lot. Time and time again, I see the power of fly-ins and a day spent on the Hill. In fact, 97 percent of staffers say in-person visits from constituents influence their Congress person. If your advocates can't make it all the way to Capitol Hill, ask them to attend a town hall in their city. These meetings show the local impact of your issue.

What strategies do you use to raise awareness for your advocacy issue on the Hill? What works for your advocacy organization? Tell us in the comments! And, if you're already trying to plan your next Hill Day, check out these tips.