This week, outdoor recreation and conservation stakeholders from across the country converged on Washington, D.C. to engage policymakers on the challenges facing their industry and communities, and proposed bipartisan solutions to address them. These collaborative efforts were a textbook example of how to properly socialize your priorities with Congress and the Administration.
A few best practices, with examples:
Demonstrate cross-jurisdictional impact/value. While a narrow focus can help with identifying partners and champions, proposals that address multiple issues and benefit numerous organizations and communities are more likely to gain the support necessary for legislative action. In this case, representatives of the outdoor recreation industry promoted solutions that address, among other things, the climate crisis, conservation and land stewardship, public lands accessibility, equity and inclusion, environmental justice, and economic development.
Try to plan your engagement around a relevant date or event. Planning your efforts around a significant date or event related to your issue allows you to use symbolism to organize and strengthen your message. Outdoor stakeholders strategically chose to coordinate their efforts leading up to Earth Day, which falls on April 22nd.
Diversify your coalition AND your audience. Effective advocacy involves a diverse range of industries, communities, and perspectives. At the same time, there’s clear value in making an effort to communicate your priorities to different policymakers who may not be top of mind relative to your priorities. Engage Members of Congress and Senators with differing ideologies, professional backgrounds, and geographic bases. Consider federal agencies and congressional committees that have oversight of your issues that may not be immediately apparent. For example, rather than meeting exclusively with environmental regulators, outdoor enthusiasts met with the Economic Development Administration to discuss the economic and community building-benefits that the outdoor industry can support.
Get creative to get your members and audience excited. There are countless ways to build interest in your issues and engage new audiences: receptions, conferences and industry networking events, galas and banquets, interactive social media campaigns, professional and recreational workshops – the list goes on. Think outside the box and craft new events to set your efforts apart. This meeting-filled week was capped by the Capital Conservation Awards Dinner, which commended recent efforts in conservation policy.