New report on effectiveness of advocacy methods
A survey report released yesterday has good news and bad news for association advocacy and government-relations professionals.
In short, it gives evidence that in-person constituent contact is the top method for influencing legislators, well above the effectiveness of direct contact from lobbyists. But, it seems that wide-scale grassroots form-letter campaigns are not nearly so effective.
These are both techniques often used by associations in their lobbying efforts, so this info provides a mixed bag of advice. The report, Communicating with Congress: Perceptions of Citizen Advocacy on Capitol Hill, conducted by The Partnership for a More Perfect Union at the Congressional Management Foundation, presents the results of a survey of 260 congressional staff members, mostly in the House of Representatives, in fall 2010.
My initial reaction to this is that every association that hosts a legislative "fly-in" day to bring members to meet with Congress should relay this piece of data to its members. What better way to encourage participation than to say "Your presence is the most effective method possible to represent the industry's needs to our legislators"?
But on the form-letter point, I wonder if this kind of grassroots advocacy is the best use of an association's GR resources or if it needs rethought. The report says that 53 percent of congressional staffers surveyed believe that form-message campaigns are sent without constituents' knowledge or approval. Whether this is true or not, it's a clear indicator of a lack of impact among the intended targets.
I'm not a GR pro, though, so I'm curious for your reaction to these points and to the report in general. What advocacy methods has your association found most effective?
[Sidenote: you may also be interested in "5 Ways Hill Staffers Evaluate Your Association," by Bill Dalbec, from this month's issue of ASAE's Government Relations e-newsletter.]