• WisPolitics


Thursday, April 28, 2016

 10:47 AM 

Wendy Riemann column: Advantageous Advocacy: Keep it Simple


The Netflix series “Making a Murderer” has captured the attention of millions of people.  However, I know few individuals who would want to start that 10-episode series, or any series, on episode number four. Knowing how it all begins and understanding the basic framework is crucial.

The same methods are true on Capitol Hill. After surveying of dozens of Hill staff, a whopping 88 percent said that for a first meeting with any group, they would prefer the group assumes the congressional office know nothing about the topic at hand. So, start at the very beginning.

While a group’s issue may be the most important thing in the world from its perspective, and it may even be atop the news, it may also be unfamiliar to a busy staff person trying to juggle a plethora of policy issues.

As one staff person told me, “They should start the meeting at the 30,000 ft level ... Many staffers fake that they understand an issue because they don't want to look stupid ... which makes it tough for the staffer to brief their boss.”

If the staff person is unable to effectively brief the boss, despite the group’s best use of intricate details, fancy charts, and interactive graphs, the group’s message will be lost.

Even when asked, “Are you familiar with this issue,” most staff will say yes, even if the answer is no.

More annoying to many staff is being asked, “What do you know about this issue?”

With all that being said, groups need to work with staff. Do not make the meeting awkward, embarrassing, or unhelpful. Allow the staffers to walk before asking them to run.

Some of the more effective ways of accomplishing this is to provide at that initial meeting a one-page summary or a 101 type overview that includes the fundamentals. Diligently avoid the industry jargon.

Make an effort to eliminate the use of acronyms, and if someone in the group does, clarify what it means. Stay out of the weeds. If a group is meeting to discuss legislation, provide the bill name AND bill number, and sponsors upfront.

These are some simple techniques that will allow a group to more clearly convey its message.  Plus, staff members are conscientious of time. If they know more about the issue, they will indicate such and encourage the group to move on and go deeper into the weeds.

Finally, as a group prepares for that first meeting, keep in mind some words of wisdom from Albert Einstein, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

-- Riemann is president of 1492 Communications, a consulting firm. She can be reached at: wendy@1492communications.com.


Back to DC Wrap main page

: See newer blog items : : See older blog items :

DC Wrap site feed


Advertisement
Advertisement

wispolitics.com Social News

Follow Us

ABOUT THE BLOG

WisPolitics coverage of news from the nation's capital.

BLOG CONTRIBUTORS
JR Ross, David Wise

· DC Wrap site feed (RSS)

· Sign up for email delivery of the weekly DC Wrap column

CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION

SENATE
· Tammy Baldwin (D)
· Ron Johnson (R)

HOUSE
· 1st CD: Paul Ryan (R)
· 2nd CD: Mark Pocan (D)
· 3rd CD: Ron Kind (D)
· 4th CD: Gwen Moore (D)
· 5th CD: F. James Sensenbrenner (R)
· 6th CD: Glenn Grothman (R)
· 7th CD: Sean Duffy (R)
· 8th CD: Reid Ribble (R)

CONGRESSIONAL VOTE TRACKING

WISPOLITICS.COM D.C. PROFILES

· July 2013: Wood's 2001 DC inauguration trip turned into new career
· May 2013: Hard work propels Berens from Doyle to Pelosi to DGA
· March 2013: Riemann uses PR skills, 'lunch-pail work ethic' to boost state interests in D.C.
· Feb. 2013: Stocks seeks to remake NEA as 'more than a traditional labor union'
· Dec. 2012: As modest Kohl bids farewell to Senate, others do the bragging
· Dec. 2012: Wisconsin experience provides guideposts to Priebus at RNC

ARCHIVE

· May 2009
· June 2009
· July 2009
· August 2009
· September 2009
· October 2009
· November 2009
· December 2009
· January 2010
· February 2010
· March 2010
· April 2010
· May 2010
· June 2010
· July 2010
· August 2010
· September 2010
· October 2010
· November 2010
· December 2010
· January 2011
· February 2011
· March 2011
· April 2011
· May 2011
· June 2011
· July 2011
· August 2011
· September 2011
· October 2011
· November 2011
· December 2011
· January 2012
· February 2012
· March 2012
· April 2012
· May 2012
· June 2012
· July 2012
· August 2012
· September 2012
· October 2012
· November 2012
· December 2012
· January 2013
· February 2013
· March 2013
· April 2013
· May 2013
· June 2013
· July 2013
· August 2013
· September 2013
· October 2013
· November 2013
· December 2013
· January 2014
· February 2014
· March 2014
· April 2014
· May 2014
· June 2014
· July 2014
· August 2014
· September 2014
· October 2014
· November 2014
· December 2014
· January 2015
· February 2015
· March 2015
· April 2015
· May 2015
· June 2015
· July 2015
· September 2015
· October 2015
· November 2015
· December 2015
· January 2016
· February 2016
· March 2016
· April 2016
· May 2016
· June 2016
· July 2016
· August 2016
· September 2016
· October 2016
· November 2016
· December 2016
Copyright ©2012 WisPolitics.com All rights reserved. | WisOpinion.com | WisBusiness.com  |  Website development by wisnet.com LLC  | Website design by Makin’ Hey Communications