Here’s what today’s Lobbying 101 panel said about influencing lawmakers through effective communication . . . Whether it’s the first line in your email or the first words out of your mouth, be direct in your request - “I’m asking you to oppose X bill, which cuts funding by X amount in my community. Dumb it down a notch and localize - “if this proposal passes it will literally cost us 10 police officers / 15 firefighters / 30 furlough days” (you get the drift). It’s too easy for legislators to say “I’m with you” only to vote the opposite - get a “yes” or “no” and get it in writing. It’s accountability, it’s not personal - “look senator, I respectfully disagree and it’s my responsibility to let the people and media in our district know you voted against us.” Add “PR big mouth” to your job description. If they voted with you, say “thank you” IN PUBLIC. If they voted against you, say “you screwed us” IN PUBLIC (share thank you and disappointment letters with local media outlets so residents know what’s happening in Lansing – your position as a local leader makes it newsworthy). Don’t let inside jargon and regurgitated partisanship positions rain on your parade/take you off guard. You know local government. You are the BEST person to explain to legislators an issue and its impact on your community. Everyone I work with is a big nerd (dear conscience, just because my boss said it and I agree, should I blog it?) and so they are actually excited to help you understand the political process. Ask the lobbying staff anytime if you need a primer or just want to know where a bill stands before contacting your legislator – trust me, they’d love to help out. Drop a post to add your positive lobbying tips/experiences/things you learned today!