Category Archives: Legislative Relations

It’s Legislative Season – How to Play a Role

Like Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of Summer, last night’s State of the Union Address by our President marks the unofficial start of Legislative sessions, not just in Washington D.C., but in capitals in every state. How are you engaging in the process? You cannot leave it to your state association to advocate for you. You have a responsibility as a business owner, industry leader, voter, to engage with your Legislator.

I dusted off a piece How to Play a Key Role In Our Representative Form of Government. I did not pen it. I would freely give credit to the author but there is none so with that disclaimer of plagiarism, here’s How to Play a Key Role In Our Representative Form of Government:

Get to know your local Senator and Representative. You should become personally acquainted with your senator and representative. Take a sincere interest in them, and get  know their political philosophies. If you contact your legislators only when you want their support on a legislative matter, it may be too late. It is better to be in touch with them throughout their term of office, thereby creating an ongoing, working relationship.

Make sure your local views are heard and listened to. Few people ever contact their legislators. This reluctance usually results from the belief that legislators have no time or inclination to answer their phones or read their mail, and that one single contact will not make a difference anyway. In most cases, these views are wrong. Thoughtful and persuasive contacts can change a legislator’s mind and bring about a review of his or her positions.

Arrange for meetings when your legislator are back in the district. Talk to your legislators when they are back home as they are more likely to listen and respond positively in a local environment – on your turf. Your senator and representative need to directly exposed to the people they represent – including you as a local businessperson/community leader. They need to know what you think about the issues facing your community and the state, and how legislation pending in the capital will affect your operation. That is why they are in the Legislature.

Helpful Hints:

Know the Procedure – How does a bill become a law?

Evaluate the Issues – Give priority in your lobbying to important issues.

Deal with Principles – If your legislators really support business, most of your battles are won.

Recognize their Problems – Your legislators represent all of the constituents in your area – rural and urban, rich and poor, liberal and conservative, business and labor. Try to understand their problems, outlook and objectives.

Never Threaten – Never threaten political or other consequences if your legislator refuses to see an issue your way.

Inform Allies – If you request introduction of a bill by your legislator, let potential allies know.

Communicate in a Timely Manner – Contacts with legislators before a committee vote and before floor action by the committee of the whole. In both chambers of the legislature, are most effective.

Be Accurate – Be sure to have accurate facts and good arguments about any issues you discuss with your legislators.

Do Not Be Argumentative – Make your point, but do not engage in a quarrelsome debate.

Follow Up Your Request – If you have made your request for a certain action – in person, by letter or telephone call – follow it through.

Show Your Appreciation – When your legislators do a good job on a piece of legislation, tell them about it. Do not take it for granted that they know you are appreciative of their efforts.

Give Them Your Support – If you believe your legislators deserve re-election, do not hesitate to get involved when they are campaigning for another term.

You have additional tips or hints you’d like to share? Or an antidote to support any of the points above? Please share with us below.

Thanks for reading.

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The Fifth P of Marketing

Remember the Four Ps of Marketing?  Product – Price – Placement and Promotion.  It’s the Marketing 101.  Last time I shared how it’s the core of what we do – destination development (Product), drive hotel rates (Price), advise on the location of the attractions (Placement), and of course advertising and media relations (Promotion.)  But the longer I spend in destination marketing, the more I realize there is indeed a fifth P of marketing.  That fifth P is Politics.

I once read that destination marketing professionals are “politicians with marketing skills”.  And while I don’t like to consider myself a politician, I recognize more and more frequently that we do a lot of politic-ing.  Consider that…

– The CVB was active in recent City Council elections.  We assisted with candidate profiles and submitted questions for the candidate forums.

– Recently we’ve monitored City issues related to business lighting and storm water runoff.  Further back, we took a stance on a state education issue and supported both a parks master plan and funding for a business park.

– I accompanied our Chamber of Commerce on a ‘fly-in’ to DC to meet with our five representatives and Senators.  (We also met with NOAA as weather is big business in Norman!)

– In the near future we’ll discuss raising the transient guest tax and the split of that tax to maximize it’s economic impact on the local economy.

US Travel Association has long recognized the fifth P of destination marketing.  DMAI is engaging more and more in advocacy.  A committee is developing a tool kit for a community to utilize.  Not soon enough as we spend less and less time on the Promotion side of our jobs and more time on the Politics of our job.

Lobby with the Big Boys

Did your tourism friendly candidate win yesterday? Were we tourism professionals as active in this past election as all other interested parties? All too often we leave it to the Chambers to host the candidate forums, to publish the candidate profiles and talk the issues that impact business. Then we wonder why our Representatives and business community doesn’t pay respect to the tourism industry. Health care, taxes and education impact tourism just as much as the manufacturing plant the Chamber represents.

November’s Five at 5 suggests actions to take today to make contact with that newly elected (or re-elected) legislator. Share with him/her the impact tourism has on his/her district and the key legislative issues before them this session:

* Invite him or her to lunch, breakfast, coffee, dessert… But don’t allow them occupy the conversation talking about the election. Make sure you stress your issues.
* Send a letter to him/her outlining your key initiatives. Don’t make it long. A simple “Congratulations. Please keep in mind how you can assist tourism”, will suit for now. Hit them with the meat later.
* Host a “sending off” reception. Be sure to include your board members and contacts through out the community’s tourism industry. Stress to them the importance of attendance! If the legislator attends a reception with five people, it won’t make a good impression on the industry.
* Schedule in your Outlook a reminder to call and schedule one of the first meetings with your legislator in his/her new office at the capital. You don’t have to be a registered lobbyist. You’re a constituent visiting your legislator.
* While you are contacting elected officials, drop a line to your city council members. When was the last time you talked one on one with them? They shouldn’t only hear from you at budget time.

When you do meet with the legislator, include something to show off the district (read – your attractions.) I have visited many offices and noticed they are proud to display a picture, poster or commemorative from their home. Marketing is marketing whether you get those impressions in the state capitol or DC.

(Originally posted November 2008)