Grassroots Guide 2020

Basic tips for effective grassroots advocacy

February 2020

Linda Allen

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OOIDA needs you! Grassroots advocacy is critical to the success of any campaign. Elected officials need to hear your voice and need to be held accountable to constituents.

Here are some things you should do:

  • Share your professional experience with lawmakers. You know more about trucking than any member of Congress or their legislative staff. In short, you’re the expert on trucking issues .Your voice will be the most passionate thing they hear all day.
  • Use facts. A small number of compelling facts can help make your case. Facts that are specific to the area a lawmaker represents are particularly effective. It’s important to tie facts and statistics back to the bigger picture and impact of an issue.
  • Have your “ask” in mind and make it clear. Never end a conversation without asking your lawmakers to do something. Have a specific request for your lawmakers in mind before you make contact, such as a request to support or oppose a bill, sponsor or co-sponsor a bill, or some other action.
  • Prepare for the conversation. Familiarize yourself with the issues you’re covering. Anticipate questions or pushback. Contact OOIDA to see what materials and guidance we have available, including facts sheets and handouts.

Here are some things to avoid:

  • Don’t go on too long. Keep your story powerful by keeping it short and on message so your lawmaker can stay focused.
  • Don’t include too many details or statistics. Limit your discussion to the most compelling points during a meeting.
  • Don’t get caught in the run-around. Lawmakers won’t commit unless they have to. Get a firm commitment from them about when you can expect a response. Offer to provide additional information if they have any questions.
  • Don’t go in unprepared. Every meeting with a lawmaker should be considered an event worthy of preparation. Your time and your lawmaker’s time is valuable, so you should make the most of it. Reach out to OOIDA for assistance getting ready for a call or meeting if needed. LL

Linda Allen serves on the Board of Directors for OOIDA. She has extensive trucking experience, has met with numerous members of Congress about trucking and nontrucking related issues, has worked with several other industry associations on grassroots advocacy campaigns, and was once a registered lobbyist in Georgia.