It’s not enough to decide that you are going to advocate for your issue or organization.
Before engaging with any elected officials, you really must prepare. You must familiarize yourself with the policymakers’ backgrounds:
- What is their voting record?
- What is their interest in your particular issue?
- How informed are they about your issue, and have they ever been engaged in something similar to your issue?
That preparatory work is important. You want to be able to go into these conversations ready to succinctly address your key points. You also should be able to address, if appropriate, the arguments of your opponents.
In preparing for a conversation with an elected official, reflect on your purpose and be able to relate that purpose in an “elevator speech”. Elected officials have a very limited amount of time, and frankly, they have limited attention spans because the many priorities that are put on them.
So what is your elevator speech?
Does it communicate the why, how, and what of the issue or program of concern to you and the elected official? Here’s an example of an elevator speech have developed for one of our clients:
WHY: More than 3.5 million of our neighbors in Florida struggle to afford nutritious food, while many farmers and packers may have surplus food that can help ease the burden.
HOW: The Florida Association of Food Banks’ food recovery initiative, Farmers Feeding Florida, was established to combat this issue. Across our network, we have refrigerated storage facilities to process donations, as well as a fleet of more than 160 refrigerated trucks to safely transport and distribute it statewide. Our Food Bank employees and volunteers are trained and certified in proper food-handling procedures to ensure the quality of produce donations.
WHAT: The funds allocated by the Florida Legislature to the Farmers Feeding Florida program go directly to farmers and packers throughout our state to rescue and distribute wholesome and cosmetically blemished produce to our neighbors in need. The initiative helps Florida farmers offset out-of-pocket costs for packing materials enabling them to scale up donations to multiple truckload quantities.