How to secure Hill meetings for your D.C. fly-in
Spring and summer are not only the season of tourists in our nation’s capital; they are also the seasonal beholder of the fly-in (or lobby day, Hill day, or summit). Yes, that’s right – it’s not just anxious museum visitors you have to be wary of in the crosswalks. There are thousands of people crossing paths with us all season who are here for a reason, and one reason only – to impact Congress.
But somebody has to coordinate all of this, right? I used to be that somebody, and let me tell you, I don’t miss personally scheduling hundreds of meetings with Congressional offices. But I did learn some invaluable tools while doing so.
This is one in a series of posts where I’ll be breaking down fly-in best practices, specifically helpful tips for scheduling and coordinating your organization’s day on the Hill. Up first – getting on the Congressional Scheduler’s good side.
3 Simple Steps to Hill Meeting Success:
Step 1: Find out who the scheduler or Executive Assistant is. Don’t rely on the latest version of the Congressional Directory. Pick up the phone and call the offices you’re targeting if you have to. Speak to whoever answers the phone. Mark up the directory you have with the most current information so you can keep track for future events throughout the year.
#PROTIP: Give your invite the extra edge by actually asking the office the Scheduler’s preferred method of contact for meeting requests.
Step 2: Make sure your members are actual constituents of the officials with whom they want to meet. If they don’t live in the District or state, then they should have a business there to get the Member’s time.
#PROTIP: Group constituents together so you’re not requesting multiple meetings with Congressional offices on the same day.
Step 3: Include all possible available information that the Congressional office might want to know in your first request. If you don’t have everything available, make sure to note it for the Scheduler in your request. These are the non-negotiables when sending a request for a meeting on Capitol Hill:
· Who you are, who your organization is
· Full name of your guests
· Guest(s)’ mailing address (home or business), including zip code + 4
· The reason your guests are visiting town and want to meet with the legislator
#PROTIP: When submitting your request, give the Congressional office 3-4 weeks lead time. Much earlier and they don’t know their schedule, and much later it can put them in a tough position juggling the Member’s commitments.
Bottom line – if you show the Scheduler that you care enough to consider these details to make his or her job easier, then you’ll likely get more than a gold star – you may just secure every Hill meeting you request!
Stay tuned for more Hill fly-in tips and tricks for your successful advocacy day in Washington, D.C. Want a digital assist with your fly-in? Check out our Lobby Day mobile app.