TV, newspapers and social media lately have been full of images of impassioned citizens voicing frustration with their Members of Congress at local district town hall meetings. It’s reminiscent of the early days of the Obama Administration, when town halls started turning into feisty forums in which people denounced big bank bailouts, the Affordable Care Act and other measures. Except nowadays, the raucous citizens are more likely to be denouncing plans to repeal Obamacare, or calling for investigating President Trump’s ties to Russia, or some other volatile topic.
These town hall showdowns create interesting challenges, and opportunities, for advocacy organizations. But you might want to consider new tactics – to complement the traditional advocacy tactics of email campaigns, phone calls, letters to the editor, “grasstops” visits to lawmakers’ offices, targeted online ads, etc.
As someone who used to do digital advocacy for a living – and who now gets to work with many practitioners of the craft, I’ve spelled out five easy steps below, aimed at encouraging your supporters to attend and advocate effectively at local town halls.
- Map your supporters to their congressional district using the political data mapping capabilities of Engaging Networks. This will allow you to segment your list by district/state.
- Identify your “super advocates,” using advocacy filters in our supporter profiles tool. Use the “advocacy activity” filter and look for supporters whose activity count is “greater than three” during the last year.
- Use websites such as Resistance Recess or Legistorm to get a heads up about upcoming congressional town hall meetings.
- Send your super advocates an email that includes the date, time and location of a town hall in their district – along with talking points on the issues important to your organization.
- After the town hall is over, send your grassroots advocates a message containing a link to a data capture page (survey) about their experience. Or if they couldn’t attend the town hall, offer them an Email to Target page enabling them to email their Member of Congress.
The links above will take you over to our Supportal site to obtain more detailed instructions on using each of the features I’ve described above. But if you still have any questions about any of the five steps above, feel free to email me for help.
Brandon Fuller, before becoming Director of Account Services at Engaging Networks, ran digital advocacy for The Pew Charitable Trusts’ local, national, and international programs. He was inspired to write this blog post after requests from three Engaging Networks clients to add our advocacy module to their accounts.