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Continuing Advocacy in Times of Crisis

Legislative Priorities Advocacy During COVID-19

April 20, 2020

What are effective ways to maintain relationships and promote legislative priorities during the pandemic? While legislators are focused on COVID-19, they are still leaders in their community working on behalf of their constituents and preparing legislation to ensure policy moves forward when the time is right. While face-to-face interaction is limited, it is important that legislators and constituents be creative and take advantage of technology during this time. Advocacy is a year-around effort and arguably more important during times of crisis and concern.

Over the past month, State Capitol buildings have closed and legislatures have been suspended, placing most state policy changes at a standstill as bills are no longer moving out of committees or being debated on the floor. But this doesn’t mean the work of a legislator has entirely ceased. Many elected officials are hosting telephone town halls and conference calls. Legislators are still open to hearing from constituents, so here are some ideas to get your organization or business’ messaging and legislative priorities in front of elected officials.

Advocacy Strategies

With each of these strategies, it is important to recognize the current COVID-19 situation, being realistic and mindful of legislative asks during a time when priorities are focused on responding to the global pandemic.

Telephone/Virtual Town Halls

  • Participate in local representatives’ telephone or virtual town halls and ask appropriate questions, with consideration given to the reality of COVID-19.
  • If local representatives are not hosting these events, make the ask or use another strategy below.

Conference Calls

  • A conference call can be very effective and accessible for a group interested in sharing a priority.

Letter-Writing Campaigns

  • The mail system is still running; write letters to add support for your organization’s priorities.

Social Media

  • Continue sharing stories and successes and take advantage of hashtags and other social media tools. Tag legislators’ pages and accounts in posts and tweets.

Video Messaging

  • Use video technology for live conferencing, but also to produce videos to share with elected officials and on social media platforms.

Email or Phone Calls

  • Send an email or make a personal phone call to elected officials on behalf of the organization.

Virtual Day on the Hill

  • Continue scheduled Day on the Hill events in a virtual setting by inviting speakers, elected officials and members to a virtual webinar.

Pro-tip: always double-check technology. If elected officials, members and volunteers are joining the virtual meeting, be sure they can use the technology. Prior to a virtual meeting with elected officials, test drive the software with volunteers or members to ensure technology is working properly.

Finally, remember as always to be civil. We are all in this together trying to do the best for our families, organizations, communities and the state.

You can count on The Partnership to continue to share accurate and fact-based updates as well. See more on COVID-19 here, including government and public policy updates and resources.

Ryan Moon

Ryan Moon is the Director of Government Relations and Public Policy at the Greater Des Moines Partnership.