Recapping the 2017 ARRM/MOHR Day at the Capitol
ARRM's 2017 Day at the Capitol was one of the most successful to date, with over 1,000 people converging on the Minnesota State Capitol to advocate for disability services and staff. There are events like this nearly every day all across the country at the state and federal levels, sometimes making it hard for your message to break through. You don't need hundreds of advocates to make a statement, however. Even a small group from a single organization that is well-organized can make a major impact in one day.
Have a consistent message
The same principles as apply to marketing apply to advocacy: repetition, repetition, repetition. Making sure legislators and their staff hear the same points over and over again, regardless of who delivers them, is key to your day of advocacy leaving a mark. Advocates and speakers at ARRM's Day at the Capitol zeroed in on the need to raise wages for direct care staff and shared striking statistics, such as the fact there are 8,700 open positions across the industry.
- Align your main points with any legislation being supported or other testimony previously given
- Limit yourself to three to five core points
- Share the core points ahead of time with speakers and organizers, and hand out cheat sheets to attendees
Turn out your advocates
Turning out advocates doesn't have to be a numbers game. It's more about making sure the key voices and perspectives you need are there to share your message. As a statewide organization, ARRM worked directly with many of its members to bring groups from every corner of the state. Individual organizations were encouraged to bring both staff as well as invite the people they support.
- Reach out directly to leaders who can help organize their networks
- Communicate clearly, consistently and on several channels about the event details
- Highlight why the day is so important and why people are needed
Engage legislators directly
Having a big rally is fun, but a major key to a successful Day on the Hill is to directly engage with legislators so they can hear details and specifics of why constituents are there. It's critically important to help advocates organize meetings with their representatives, or even just ensure they know to stop by their office to leave a message and notify the staff person why they are there. ARRM helped organize more than 160 meetings with legislators, some with groups as large as 50.
- Encourage people to sign up to meet their legislator
- Give background to advocates on who their legislators are
- Connect with legislators well ahead of time to let them know to save the date for a meeting with constituents
Spread the message wider
Facebook Live video from the Day at the Capitol rally
Policy makers respond to the public as a whole, so bringing a wider audience to a Day on the Hill helps strengthen its power. There are numerous ways to get the word out before, during and after a day of advocacy. For its Day at the Capitol, ARRM and its supporters were able to secure several media stories and had its messages show up in the feeds of tens of thousands of social media users.
- Notify media, using local connections as much as possible. Smaller local publications can be easier to engage, and legislators pay attention to their local media
- Organize on social media by sharing common hashtags ahead of time, as well as sample posts for advocates to use
- Leverage new tools to bring the day to others, such as live video streaming
Check out more of the results of ARRM's 2017 Day at the Capitol on our website, or contact us to learn about how ARRM members can get involved in advocacy.