Local government is very important to associations when it comes to the municipalities in which their industry members have a presence. Legislation that affects economic development, employment, operations, taxes, and more are decided at the local level. There is often important legislation that impacts how an industry can operate within a municipality in which it is located, and these can either benefit or hinder the marketplace for their industry and their members’ success.
When it comes to advocacy and policy issues, many think the most important action takes place at the state and federal levels. This is not always the case; some of the most important and influential work happens at the local level; in fact, many are saying in the age of COVID 19 that local is becoming the new state. The municipal and county level is often the starting point for policy ideas and from there they then expand to the state and federal levels. To be successful, your advocacy efforts must be comprehensive, and include strategies for the local level as well as for the state and federal levels.
Associations have started to shift advocacy resources and efforts to the local level to keep track of the issues important to them and their members. Whether it is a local ordinance that supports an association’s goals or threatens them, it is important to have strategies in place to either fight or support local legislation.
Writing letters, calling, and scheduling meetings with your local elected officials are a few grassroots level things you can do to advocate. Even in the age of COVID-19, you can still make a big impact by setting up Zoom meetings with a Mayor or City Councilman to discuss matters that are important to your association.
Grassroots efforts are very important for any association. Making sure you stay in the loop regarding local ordinances and issues that may affect your members is vital to keeping members happy and making sure your industry is successful in the municipalities it operates in. State and federal level advocacy garners headlines and attention, but the local level is closest to the people and where the most impact can occur. With many issues beginning at the local level, it is imperative to have a strong comprehensive strategy and action plan.
For help with your association’s advocacy efforts, contact us at https://arc3communications.com/contact-us/.
Content strategy is vital for your trade association, not only to bring in new members, but also to provide your current members with value for their membership. Just like other aspects of your organization, having a detailed and planned content strategy allows you to develop and put out content in a way that will draw the attention of your audience; attract new members; and provide your current members with valuable resources and information. Creating and releasing content without a strategy makes it difficult to track success; and also makes it difficult for your members to follow your content schedule, or lack thereof.
Below we will discuss ways to put together a content strategy that will allow you to test methods and see results. This will help you plan, create, and track your content marketing efforts and make tweaks where needed to reach your goals.
Planning and Goal Setting
First things first, you have to work with your team to pinpoint the ultimate goals you are trying to reach with your trade association’s content marketing efforts. Whether you are trying to bring in new members, raise awareness, provide value, promote an event, or a mixture of things; having them laid out allows you to plan your content efforts with these goals in mind. This lends purpose to your content creation and distribution strategy, instead of just posting content to get it out there.
Part of this process is identifying your audience. Consider the age range, background, profession, industry, and any other contributing factors that may affect the type of content you produce. These attributes may also influence the channels you choose to use to distribute your content. Researching information such as this Pew Research Center study on social media use and demographics, can help you decide the appropriate channels to reach your specific audience.
Content Types and the Popularity of Video
When it comes to the types of content you create and distribute, you may need to experiment to
find out what works for your audience. While blogs and e-newsletters are good staples of content marketing for everyone to have, other content forms such as infographics, videos, photos, live-streams, webinars and more can help diversify and give your content strategy what it needs to cut through the noise. With so much content competing for your audience’s attention, the more you can stand out and draw members’ attention to you, the better. You may have to test multiple content types to gauge what gets the best results.
One of the most popular content forms now is video. According to Small Business Trends, 93% of marketers say video has brought new customers. With current video recording technology, it is possible to make professional looking videos straight from your cellphone. There are a number of different ways you can take advantage of video such as vlogs, behind-the-scenes, interviews, Q&A sessions, how-to videos, and many more. No matter the content path you choose to take, video is a good choice to have on your list.
Content Schedules, Calendars, and Consistency
As you create content, it is important to create a schedule for releases and posts. A good tip is to create and implement a content calendar that keeps track of what content is being posted, on what channel, and on what day. This helps you further strategize by allowing you to plan in advance what content you’d like to share. For example, if you have an upcoming virtual event, you will want to plan content regarding that event strategically leading up to it in order to recruit attendees.
Content buckets are a helpful strategy for organizing your content. Content buckets (remove link) refer to sharing certain subject matter on specific days of the week and can also be planned and tracked through your content calendar. For example, you can decide to always share association news on Monday’s, employee stories on Tuesday’s, industry how-to videos on Wednesday’s and so on. This way your audience will know when to look for the content that is most important to them. Your content buckets can also be tested and changed depending on performance. Always try to have a reason behind your strategic decisions to get the most ROI for your content efforts.
Consistency is key to a successful content strategy. As a trade association, you want your members to get as much value for their membership as possible. You also want potential new members to see that you are the leading authority for your association’s industry. In order for this to be possible, you have to consistently provide new and quality content on a regular basis. If you have an active blog that you post to once a week, try to find what day and time gets the highest traffic, and consistently post your new blog every week on that day and at that time. Again, this allows your members and the rest of your audience to know when to check back for new content.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
When it comes to content strategy for your trade association, there is not a one size fits all strategy that works for everyone. If you need help creating and implementing a content strategy that works for your association and would like to learn about our content marketing services, contact us here.
In recent years, Google has been trying to find ways to get people the answers they are looking for without having to leave the Google search engine results page (SERP). One way they use to achieve this is the featured snippet. These can appear with traditional Google searches or voice searches which are growing in popularity. Featured snippets are boxes of text that answer a query and appear above the coveted top three results on the SERP. This has come to be known as “position zero”. These featured snippets pull the answer to the query from a content piece on a website and post the “snippet” along with a link to the full piece in a box at the top of the page. This allows people to get the answers they are looking for quickly without having to go to any website, but if they wish to know more, they can follow the link to the full piece.
While there is no exact science to getting your association’s content into featured snippets, there are things you can do to greatly improve your chances.
Understanding What a Featured Snippet Is
Before you can begin to think about trying to earn a featured snippet, you should know a few things about them. Featured snippets are usually answers to who, what, when, where, why, and how questions. Google ranks websites and content based on the reputation and factualness of the content and from there pulls answers to feature in the snippet. For example:
You will see this featured snippet appeared at the top of the page. This particular snippet was pulled from www.americanbusinessmag.com and features a basic answer to the question “Why Join a Trade Association?”. It also gives the user the chance to follow the link to learn more, thus increasing chances of someone visiting your website.
Snippets can appear in different forms including paragraph snippets like the one above, numbered or bulleted lists, and tables. Which snippet type that your content is featured in will depend on the type of content you create.
How to “Own” the Featured Snippet
As previously stated, there is not an exact science to winning the featured snippet, but there are steps you can take with your association’s content to increase your chances.
- Find out what people want to know
For this first step, you really have to think like your audience; this could be existing members or potential members. Think of the questions you receive and try to focus strong content around answering those questions. Again, featured snippets are answers to who, what, when, where, why, and how questions. Keep this in mind when brainstorming potential audience questions. A good resource for finding what people are asking is www.answerthepublic.comwhere you can search specific terms and see what people are searching for regarding that term.
We searched “trade associations” and you can see a part of the wheel we got as a result. This image includes the who and how results. One popular question is “what do trade associations do?” so that may be a good topic for content for you to focus on.
- Research Snippets in Your Industry
A good way to find opportunities for snippets for your association is to go to Google and begin typing the questions that you came up with. This will allow you to see if there are existing snippets or if there is an open opportunity for you to own the snippet. Even if there are existing snippets, if you tailor you content right, you can still take control of that snippet. Also be sure to pay attention to the “People also ask” section that appears further down the SERP. Below is the “People also ask” box that appears when we entered the question “What is a trade association?”
This section also pulls from existing content online so there is also potential to have your content featured as an answer here as well.
- Strong Website, Strong Content, Strong SEO
One of the most important factors in having your association’s content chosen for the featured snippet is making sure your website is optimized, easy to navigate, and functioning well. This is one of the first things Google looks at when determining whether your page should appear on the first page of the SERP or in the featured snippet. If your website is slow and not user friendly by Google’s terms, even if your content is outstanding, you may be overlooked when it comes to the featured snippet. Not only that, but your website will get pushed further back on the SERP making it hard to find and less likely to be visited.
Also, devoting time to keyword research and using popular keywords in your content will help not only win the featured snippet, but also rank you higher on the Google SERP. Using backlinks, cross-linking, and releasing content consistently and regularly can also go far to increase your ranking and raising you up on the search engine results page (SERP).
You Can Do It
It takes work, but you can earn the featured snippets and even improve your position on Google’s search engine results page at the same time. There are many other factors that improve your chances for securing snippets and improving your SEO. If you would like further information or help with your association’s website or content marketing, contact us here.
5 Ways Local Governments Can Improve Their Social Media During COVID-19
COVID-19 has created a major shift to digital when it comes to the way local governments provide services for and engage with their citizens. Local governments are tasked with keeping their citizens safe and informed both regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and the other many services they provide. Local governments must also be responsive to their citizens’ concerns while also working to keep the calm and provide reassurance during challenging times.
One tool that can be utilized by local governments are their various social media pages. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are great ways to keep in communication with citizens while also providing important timely information and creating an open dialog for people to voice suggestions and concerns. Below are five useful ways your team can begin utilizing your social media during COVID-19 and beyond.
- Emergency Alerts, News, COVID-19 Updates
In these times of uncertainty, it is essential to be able to relate any emergency alerts, updates, and new COVID-19 developments to your community as quickly and efficiently as possible. Not everyone has social media, so it should not be your main line for communicating these items, but it is a useful channel. This can be anything from severe weather warnings to school closures due to COVID-19.
It is important when relaying this type of information to do so in a reassuring and confident tone. Make sure to avoid use of all caps, exclamation marks, or language that may cause panic. You do want to be sure people are aware of any danger or risks and take these seriously, but it is also good to let them know the local government is doing everything it can to help.
- Important Meetings
Though meetings and public hearings may not be taking place in person, many local governments are holding official public meetings through Zoom and other virtual meeting platforms. Making sure your citizens have plenty of notice of upcoming virtual public meetings as well as all the necessary details, such as Zoom links and passwords, is crucial to making sure people in the community have the opportunity to attend these meetings and provide public input.
Posting this information on your social media accounts can also allow you to gauge public interest in a policy or topic, answer questions, and get an idea of the things people are saying about an issue by viewing the likes and comments. Be sure to keep a close eye on the comment section, so you can respond in a timely manner and answer any questions that may arise. Speaking of comments, have clear conduct guidelines in place to avoid any misinformation or inappropriate posting on your government’s pages.
- Be Open and Responsive
With many local government buildings having limited access to the public, many people may have trouble getting in contact with local officials they would like to talk to. It may not be possible to respond to every comment on each post; but utilizing apps such as Facebook Messenger allows for citizens to send direct messages. These should be checked and replied to in a timely manner as this will build trust while providing answers and letting the people of your community know their voices are being heard.
You should also have a visible link to your government’s website and contact us page that will allow an email or direct message to be sent if you
are unable to check the social media messaging apps. A great example is Cobb County, Georgia’s Facebook page pictured below, in which they have multiple options for contacting them prominently at the top of their Facebook page.
- Assisting Local Law Enforcement
Another important use for local government social media is assisting local law enforcement in spreading any important alerts or information. They can share missing children alerts, be on the lookout (BOLO) alerts, and even public service announcements and safety tips to help keep the community safe. Many local law enforcement agencies have their own social media accounts, but local government can help by sharing any important public safety messages on main accounts.
Traffic alerts, road closures, and construction news can also be shared to help keep people informed of possible detours, traffic patterns, and accidents in their area. This can help prevent frustration and keep traffic flowing smoothly on local roads.
- Messages of Hope and Positivity
COVID-19 has been hard on everyone. It is important to provide hope and positivity for the people of your community and let them know that brighter days are ahead. Things such as inspirational quotes, news about successful fundraisers, happy stories from around town, and messages of positivity from elected officials can go a long way in turning the tide of negativity and allowing you to bring some light into your community. Though times are difficult right now, as communities, we can come together and get through it; people need to be reminded that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Your local government’s social media accounts are a powerful tool for keeping connected with your community and making sure the wheels keep turning. It also allows the people to know their voices are important and being heard. It also allows your citizens to attend local public meetings and be a part of important decisions that affect their community. And finally, it can bring messages of hope and positivity to your community during these challenging times. So please make sure you are utilizing your local government’s social media accounts, and if you need help with strategies and ideas for your community, contact us here.
When it comes to getting members to engage with your content, whether your blog, e-mail newsletter, event sign-up, or donations, your call to action (CTA) goes a long way. According to Associations Now, getting members to engage starts with compelling them to act. It also helps with member recruitment when trying to get people to become members with your association. The call to action is a powerful tool for you to utilize and there are several tips that can help you build ones that are effective and successful in your mission.
What is a Call to Action?
Your call to action is your chance to persuade your current and potential members to do what you want them to do. Think of it as your “Buy Now” statement. You will include this on everything from blogs, to social media posts, to newsletters. As an association, you should also include CTAs on your website copy to recruit new members or get renewals. A well-crafted call to action will have majority of the people who view your content engaging with and completing the tasks you want them to.
Short and Simple, Yet Informative
A good call to action is short, simple, and to the point. You want to make sure that you give enough information to inform the reader and guide them towards the desired action. You want to make sure the benefits are clear, for example:
“Sign up for our newsletter to receive all the latest association news, useful resources, and event invitations.”
Be sure to include easy to follow instructions to complete the action such as a link, a phone number, email address or a form to fill out. This will make it quick and easy for people to complete the action and increase the likelihood they will go through the necessary steps required.
Use Action Verbs
Wording is everything when it comes to the success rate of your call to action. Action verbs go a long way towards leading people to converting. Phrases such as “Sign up,” “Visit us at,” and “Learn more” can prompt people to take the actions you would like them to. Also, using words that show enthusiasm or spark emotion in your members and potential members will help drive action. You should always be willing to be creative with wording and try different methods to find CTA’s that work for your association. The only way to truly know what works is to test your ideas and see which ones are the most successful.
Frequency is Key
Make sure you are consistent with your CTA. This means including it on anything that your members and potential members will be viewing. Social media posts, newsletters, blog posts, and web copy are a few ideal places to include your CTA. The more your message is put in front of your audience, the better the chances are that your members will take action. Feel free to try different tactics and approaches to find what works best for your goals. Keep track of your results with each campaign so you can decide what is successful and what might not be. Every piece you put out should have a form of a CTA present.
Having successful calls to action for your association involves knowing your members and potential members and being able to craft a message that will drive them to act. Whether it’s signing up for the association’s email newsletter, registering to attend the annual conference, or becoming a new member; each call to action should be creative, specific, and intentional. The more you can provoke emotion or enthusiasm, the more likely your audience will be to take the desired action. Every campaign is unique, so try different tactics to find the ones that works best for your association and start getting results, now.
For more help with your association’s needs sign up for our newsletter, follow us on social media, or contact us here.
After a successful meeting with an elected official to discuss an issue that is important to you, it is in your best interest to follow-up with that official in a timely fashion. This allows you to keep track on where the issue stands and what is being done to address it; as well as show your dedication to the issue. Below are steps to ensure your follow-up is successful and your issue remains at the forefront.
- Send a Thank You Letter
Promptly after the meeting, you should send a personal thank you letter to the elected official. They took time out of a busy schedule to meet with you about your issue, and even if they disagree with your stance, thanking them for their time and being courteous goes a long way. They will be more likely to listen to you on future issues. Be sure to proofread your letter and address to the correct location that ensures it gets into the right hands. Pro-tip: all elected officials, both past and present, are addressed as “The Honorable” instead of Mr., Mrs. Or Ms.
- Send Any Information and Materials
In a meeting with an elected official, you may offer or be asked to send additional information and materials on your issue. If there was something you couldn’t answer at the time of the meeting, or if the elected official requested additional information on the issue, make sure you send these in a timely manner. This will show you are credible and dedicated to the issue you are addressing. With these types of follow-ups, make sure the information and materials are clear and well organized and that the information given is cited with sources and credible. Giving inaccurate information can greatly damage your reputation with elected officials.
- Set Deadlines, Follow-up
During your meeting, if the elected official is unsure of their position, give them time to think on it and offer to provide them with more information. Inquire about when you should check back in to find out what your official plans to do regarding your issue. When the time agreed upon comes, send a follow-up email and make a phone call checking in on the issue. Be patient but be persistent, remember these officials are busy, if they have not reached a conclusion yet, set a new timeframe in which you can expect to check back in. Keep this process running so you and your issue don’t get overshadowed and forgotten.
- Attend Community Events in the District
Town hall meetings and other events are great opportunities to follow-up and touch base with elected officials and gather new information on your issue. If you participate and are engaged in a constructive way, you will build relationships and a reputation that will benefit you. These relationships will not only help you with your current issue, but you are more likely to be heard on future issues as well.
- Keep in Touch
You do not want to randomly contact your elected officials too much where you become a nuisance, but a regular well-timed check in email and phone call is recommended. Also, if you learn any new information regarding your issue that you feel may be of help, make sure you contact the office to be sure they are aware of this new information. If these communications are informative and direct, they can go a long way in helping keep your issue on their agenda.
Elected officials are not going to side with you on every issue, but if you always carry yourself respectfully and dignified, they will be more likely to hear your stance. They will also be more likely to view you as a credible source for information on future issues that they may agree with you on. How you follow up with your elected officials at the federal, state or local level after a meeting is important in advocating for your issue and building a strong relationship long term.
The video-conferencing app, Zoom, has become a daily tool for many people during the COVID-19 pandemic. As cities and state across the country were shutting down to protect against the spread of the virus; state and local governments were trying to find ways in which they could move forward with important meetings while being unable to meet in person.
Zoom became a go-to due to its ease of use; ability to have up to 100 people attend a meeting; and free use for up to 40 minutes. A problem that arose was what became known as “Zoom bombing” where a person or persons gains access to the Zoom meeting by hacking or obtaining the Zoom chat information and causes disruptions to the meeting.
One example of this was during a Kansas City Council committee meeting when a hacker or hackers infiltrated the meeting and began cursing and using racial slurs until the committee was forced to shut down the meeting. Another occurrence was during a Maine’s Children’s Behavioral Health Townhall in which a hacker or hackers gained access and began displaying deeply disturbing and offensive images forcing the meeting to be shutdown.
In addition to Zoom bombings, there have been instances of camera and audio high jacking, in which hackers can take control of a user’s camera or audio device to bug a meeting or even install harmful spyware and malware onto a user’s device.
Instances like these have caused many governments to rethink whether they want to use the platform to conduct meetings. Luckily, there are steps you can take to ensure your government Zoom meeting is protected against these unwanted Zoom bombings. Below we provide a how-to on securing you state and local government Zoom meetings.
- Always Password Protect Your Meetings
The easiest way to prevent unwanted intrusion into your government meetings is simple and easy to do; set a password. You have the option to set the password at the individual meeting, user, group, or account level and it is suggested to use a different password for each meeting. In order to do this, log into your Zoom portal and go to the “settings” tab. From there enable “require a password when scheduling new meetings” and Zoom will generate a password each time a meeting is scheduled.
- Use a Randomly Generated Meeting ID
When creating a Zoom account, you are provided with your own personal meeting ID you can use to set up meetings. These are not ideal for use for government meetings; especially if planning on public input attendance. It is suggested you do not make your personal meeting ID public. Once someone has your personal meeting ID it can either be leaked or used to gain access to future meetings; instead it is suggested you use a randomly generated meeting id. You can select this option when setting up your meeting.
- Utilize the Waiting Room Feature
The waiting room is normally used for individual interviews or one-on-one sessions, it can be utilized to screen participants as they join before allowing them to come into a meeting. This gives the host greater control over session security and prevents anyone who may have obtained the login information dishonestly from joining.
- Disable Participant Screen Sharing, Mute Upon Entry
In order to avoid people showing inappropriate things such as happened in the aforementioned examples, disabling attendant’s ability to use screen share can help prevent that. Unless someone is scheduled to share a presentation or visual, going under the “security” tab during your active session and disabling screen share can help avoid unwanted disturbances. Also remember, as a host, you can choose to mute people upon entry or manually mute or unmute a participant during the meeting.
- Lock the Meeting Once it Begins
Once the time for the meeting has arrived and everyone is in attendance who is meant to be there, it is a good idea to “lock” your meeting to prevent others from joining. This can be done once the session has begun by going to the “Manage Participants” tab and clicking on “more.” From there you can click on “lock” and this will prevent anyone else from joining the meeting. It can be unlocked at any time if you need to admit anyone.
- Evict Troublesome Participants and Report
If someone happens to come into your meeting uninvited or a participant begins causing trouble, you, as the host, can remove that person from the meeting. This should be done immediately upon noticing an issue. All you have to do is mouse over the participant’s name and with the option pop-up chose the “remove” option. After you have done this you can report them to Zoom’s Trust and Safety team who will take appropriate action.
- Keep Your Zoom App Updated
As security and functionality issues arise, patches and updates are regularly released to combat these issues. Each time before using Zoom, you should always check to make sure you are updated to the latest version. This can be done by opening your application, going to your profile and selecting “Check for Updates.” The app will automatically scan and install any updates.
Using Zoom for government meetings is a good way to continue with important policy and public engagement processes during these trying times. Zoom is an ever-evolving platform that continues to take steps towards a more secure meeting experience. Making sure you take all precautions to secure your meetings will help prevent bad actors from gaining access and wreaking havoc. Government meetings are essential to keep state, cities, and counties running smoothly, and Zoom is one means to keep the wheel turning until we can all safely meet in person again.
With the current COVID-19 pandemic, many are working from home and annual conferences and monthly and quarterly meetings have been postponed or cancelled. For associations, these meetings and conferences are a major part of what they offer members. This has prompted many to embrace their creativity and take these opportunities online as virtual experiences for their members. One of the challenges, however, is how to arrange a virtual meeting that offers your members the same value as they would get from an in-person event or conference. There are many ways your association can utilize virtual events to deliver value to your members. Below are some ideas for utilizing the Zoom virtual meeting platform for use for everything from group meetings, to continued education presentations, and even annual conferences.
Zoom has grown in popularity and usage due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic. This is because it is a platform that allows people to conduct virtual meetings and allows businesses and associations to continue operating. Zoom allows for up to 100 people to be present in a single meeting and with a paid subscription, unlimited meeting length (free version allows up to 40-minute meetings.) Audio and video capabilities, screen share, text chat function, and break-off rooms allow for many different uses of the platform. With a shift to virtual meetings on Zoom, there are some things to be aware of; and we will discuss those as well.
The most popular use of Zoom for associations, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, is Zoom group meetings. Zoom allows you to host meetings and invite people to them. These meetings allow for audio and video sharing as well as screen sharing. This is a great way to keep your members informed of policy or membership news or host an informative guest speaker or panel. It is also very useful to hold important meetings with your board members to keep things running as smoothly as possible. Being able to set a password and invite specific people to meetings allows for privacy. You can set a schedule and send out reminders via email of upcoming meetings to ensure meetings are timely and successful.
Webinars and Continued Education
Zoom is also very useful for webinars and continued education opportunities. If your association usually offers courses, classes, or other learning opportunities, these can be done virtually so your members can still take full advantage. Set up much like a Zoom group meeting, you can have a presenter use share screen to show a presentation or have a lecture. The option to allow one person to be on video if desired and mute all attendees, helps prevent distractions and allows a more effective learning experience. Zoom also has the capability to stream live to YouTube and Facebook, so you can reach even more people if you would like to. This way any certifications or credits can still be achieved by your members without any roadblocks to accessibility. Zoom also allows for recording of sessions, so that it may be available later on to members at times convenient to them.
For some associations, a big part of what they offer are networking opportunities. Whether through annual conferences or monthly meetings, networking is a big part of what many associations do. With Zoom, you can allow members to come together; and using the breakaway feature, they can break off into smaller one-on-one meetings and then return to the main group later. Members can also utilize the private chat options to send text chat to other members and exchange information that way. If you have multiple committees within your association, you can set up separate meetings, so people can network with those most beneficial to them.
Zoom Etiquette and Other Tips
When it comes to Zoom meetings, it is very important to conduct yourself like you would during face-to face meetings. There are a few things to consider that will allow you to conduct yourself in a professional manner, and have a successful experience with virtual meetings and networking.
Be aware that your camera and audio are connected until you fully exit the Zoom application. Avoid doing or saying anything you wouldn’t want everyone to see or hear while the Zoom application is running, even if you are not actively in a meeting or think you are muted. Also, dress appropriately, if you would normally dress business or business casual, dress that way on Zoom meetings as well. You may be joining in from home, but you should still carry yourself professionally.
Use discretion when using Zoom backgrounds. These are backgrounds you can download to have displayed behind you during a meeting. Don’t use a flashy or inappropriate background that will cause distraction in a meeting. If you choose to use a background, pick a professional image such as an office backdrop. Also, test out the background before using it in a meeting in case there are any incompatibilities or technical issues.
As we continue to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important members know you are there for them. You must reach out as much as you can. Offering virtual opportunities is a great way to show value and keep your members informed of association activities. With the uncertainty caused by COVID-19, associations must get creative to keep things running and work hard to show value. Zoom group meetings, webinars, and networking events are great ways to offer members quality opportunities while we get through these difficult times.
Advocating for your business or association and being able to get your message across to your elected officials during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis can be intimidating. Elected officials are literally in the middle of making life saving decisions between public health and economic livelihoods. While the majority of us are sheltering in place and social distancing, there are still many ways in which you can be heard by your elected officials at the local, state and federal levels; and your input is now more important than ever. They were elected to represent and serve you, and they can best do that through your effective advocacy. Below are ways in which you can connect with your elected officials and communicate your message in a way that is clear and makes a lasting impression during this crisis.
Email Your Lawmaker
One of the easiest ways to get in touch with your elected officials is by email. You can usually find elected officials’ emails on your local government’s website or sites such as Open Secrets or your Secretary of State’s website. When writing an email to an elected official, there are many things to keep in mind to make sure your email is effective and well received. Below are some tips on successfully emailing your representatives:
- Put your name and address at the top of your message.
- Humanize your message.
- Be brief.
- Be clear about your position.
- Make your message timely.
- It is okay to disagree, but don’t be abusive or threaten.
- Avoid attachments.
- Don’t spam elected officials or their office.
- Be honest.
- Proofread your email.
These 10 rules are key to writing an effective email that will likely be read and resonate with your officials. They hold true anytime, but especially during the time crunch of a crisis.
Schedule a Virtual Visit with Your Elected Official
During normal times, an in-person visit is the best way to connect with your elected official and to leave a lasting impression. While this is close to impossible during the COVID-19 restrictions, local officials and state and federal lawmakers are making themselves available via virtual platforms for meetings with constituents. Schedule a virtual meeting on a platform such as Zoom, Skype or Google Hangout much like you would an in-person meeting. Lawmakers may have their virtual platform preference or may defer to yours. This is a good way to discuss the concerns and needs of your association, business or industry that are important to you during this critical time. Virtual visits with elected officials must be scheduled with staff, and you must exercise patience, and understand that these officials’ schedules are extremely busy. Also, be respectful of their time when you do get a meeting, try to limit your meeting to 10-30 minutes. After your meeting, be sure to express your gratitude for the time taken to meet with you and let your elected official know you truly appreciate their time and the opportunity to meet with them. A virtual meeting is a great way to stand out among the many emails and letters these officials receive every day.
Prior to your meeting, make sure you have a plan or strategy for what you want to say and how you want to present your information and request. You want to be prepared for any questions or follow-ups that may come from your presentation. Make sure you are knowledgeable and informed on the topic you will be discussing in order to establish credibility and even bring some leave behind materials with printed information such as flyers, petitions, or fact sheets that can be shared via the screenshare or the chat function of the virtual platform. Be sure to also ask your representative’s stance on the issues at hand and their thoughts and ideas; this will help by letting them get involved with the conversation and may shed light on certain aspects of the issue you had not thought of. Be sure to make your ask and wait for an answer; if the elected official’s response is undecided, ask when you may be able to follow up with the official or legislator and their staff for an answer. After your meeting, follow up as you would with an in-person meeting; write a follow up thank you letter and email to the elected official and their staff.
Call Your Legislator
If your time is limited, or it is important for you to get in contact immediately, calling elected officials may be your best option. A phone call could make the difference in the issue or help make progress and move things forward. When you call, remember to be professional, remain courteous and factual. Make sure you establish yourself as a constituent and a voter; this will make your elected official much more receptive. Much like in person or virtual meetings, make sure you plan and strategize your call before making it so you can stay on your message. Also, like with any other contact you may have with an elected official, thank them for their time and for hearing you out.
Whichever communication channel you decide to use, make sure you always give your name, address, and telephone number and your relevancy to the elected officials district or area they represent to drive home the fact you are a constituent and voter. Always remain confident and professional when you are presenting where you stand on an issue especially during this time of crisis. Do not be reluctant to contact your elected officials during this time; they are there to represent you and hear where you stand on issues that are important to you, your association, business or industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your email, virtual meeting, or phone call could be the one to make the difference you’d like to see for your association, business or industry.
For more information or for help with your COVID 19 advocacy and government relations efforts visit our website at www.arc3communications.com or contact Patrick Burns at email@example.com or 678-907-2478.