Whether you’re inviting the President of the United States, or your local Sheriff, you can easily enhance your event by following the guidelines below. And always remember, when dealing with politicians: Be Persistent – Be Polite – Be Patient.
Plan as far in advance as possible
- Politicians’ schedules fill up rapidly. Create a list of your top three choices and get the invitation out to your first choice ASAP. This will put you on their radar and, in case your first choice declines, gives you enough time to reach out to other options.
- For federal (and some state) officials, contact their local office. This shows that you are respectful of their time and will almost always get you a response.
- If relevant, describe the benefits of the official attending (e.g., ability to talk about an issue that is important to him or her or the chance to meet with a significant number of older voters in the district).
Prepare for the event
- Work in coordination with the official’s staff so that everyone is on the same page as to what the expectations are. Be clear about what you hope the official will do (e.g., present an award or introduce a part of the program). Try to make it as easy for them as you can.
- Provide staff with a complete agenda and alert them to any media you think will attend. Give them a full list of the media you expect to attend as you get closer to the date.
- If you present an award to the official (always a great idea), alert his or her staff in advance and ask that the official say a few words of thanks and support.
During and after the event
- Have a staff photographer on hand to record your event. Put it in your newsletter or other communications and be sure to send copies to the official and his staff.
- To get the ball rolling, have one of your staff ask the first question if there is a Q & A session. Be sure to let the official’s staff know which question is coming.
- Following the event, thank the official with a note or card, photos, feedback, stories, and anything you’d like to share.
- Be sure to follow up in a timely manner to any questions they may have asked you during the event that you couldn’t answer. This allows you to continue your connection with the official after the event.
- Finally, don’t be offended if a staff member shows up for the official at the last minute. Politicians are very busy and are often pulled in multiple directions.
Follow these simple tips, and you are well on your way to getting the elected official’s attention and developing a successful event for your community.
If you’re successful in having a lawmaker visit your organization, please take a moment to tell us how it went by completing our quick online survey. Your response will enhance our future advocacy efforts.