So much attention is paid to the time leading up to Election Day that people often forget about how valuable the time is after the election to the when the winners are sworn in. This is an excellent opportunity to reach out to the newly elected and an excuse to reconnect with incumbents. Here at Americans for the Arts, we encourage our members to adopt the following “schedule” after any election.
November 6, Election Night: Send the winner a congratulatory email, post to their Facebook, etc. If they have a victory party, attend or send someone on your behalf. (It is even better if the person attending was a campaign donor.)
November 7: Have a grasstop supporter contact the winner via phone or personal email on your behalf and congratulate them. This grasstop supporter should be an individual who has a personal friendship with the elected official. It is important that you provide your grasstop supporter with your talking points, but this is primarily a social call, not a hard sell about your issues.
November 7-13: Send a formal congratulatory letter to the winner via the USPS (not an email). The letter should be on your letterhead and tailored to that specific elected official. Overview your organization and what you do in their district. This is also a great time to remind them of any campaign promises that they made. Enclose information about your organization and upcoming events and offer an open invitation for them to visit or call upon you.
November 14-30: Contact the elected official and obtain a meeting. Ask your grasstop supporter to attend along with representative(s) from local organization(s) in that district. The meeting does not have to be at their office – they might not even have one yet – but can be at your office, a coffee shop, etc. The meeting should not be a hard sell, but continue to introduce you to them and talk about what your organization does in their district, show them any economic data you have on how your organization/industry benefits their district and offer to become an auxiliary staffer on your issue.
December: This is a purely social time, absolutely NO business. Identify a local organization of yours that is having a holiday event and invite the elected official and their family as honored guests. If appropriate, allow them to briefly speak to the group. At a minimum, recognize the elected official and their family from the podium. Try and have a grasstop supporter in attendance to introduce the elected official to your VIPs.
Early January or Late December: Sometime prior to when the Senate or House organizes, if the elected official is supportive of your issues, reach out to them and let them know which legislative committees have jurisdiction over your issues and encourage them to contact their party leader to request this committee assignment.
First Week of Session: Send them a “welcome to the capitol” email. If your office is near the state capitol complex, extend an open invitation to drop by and/or use your office as a quiet get-a-way. Remind them to be on the lookout for their invitation to any upcoming event you are sponsoring.
Hopefully, by making use of the time between Election Day and when the session starts, new elected officials will become familiar (and supportive) of you, your organization and your issues.
Do you have other post-election advocacy strategies that have worked for your organization?