If you’re like me, the thought of having to write a report takes me back to some not-so-pleasant memories from my school days! Meeting those deadlines, deciding what to write about, doing the research…yuck, right? And after I turned it in, that was it. Never saw it (or truth be told), never wanted to see it again!
However back when I was an elected official, I decided to give it another try and began preparing what I call a Pre-Session Legislative Report for my state lawmakers. And surprisingly I discovered that not only did I enjoy writing it, but it became a very valuable advocacy tool as I took another step along my advocacy journey. Here’s why…
A better, more focused advocate – When I decided to prepare the report, I knew I had to focus on only few issues (3 at most) affecting my city. Thus, the time spent doing research and data collection really helped me learn the issues, which helped me become a better advocate. And the time I spent presenting the report was an opportunity to ask for what I wanted for my city and offer help and support to my lawmakers during the upcoming session.
Informed Legislators – Once presented, they knew (and hopefully) understood in detail my top priorities for advocacy in the upcoming session and why I had chosen them. And they also knew when they heard from me is was going to be about one of those issues. Also, it provided them with valuable information they could reference if and when related legislation was filed. And if they couldn’t support my city’s position, this was an opportunity for them to tell me early on in the process so I didn’t waste their time or mine trying to follow-up or persuade them otherwise.
A Great Resource for the Staff – The report provided them with information they could incorporate into talking point for their boss, and now had all of my contact information for any additional follow-up. And I assured them that if/when related legislation was filed, they could count on me to keep the report current.
So what should you include in the report on each issue and how long should it be? Here’s a quick list to help you get started:
- The fiscal impact (positive or negative) of the issues or legislation. Lawmakers ALWAYS want to know this!
- A status report with basic information such as a bill number, sponsor, co-sponsors, committees of reference and committee outcomes (if applicable).
- A list of any known opponents for each issue. Legislators know that for every supporter, there is always an opponent. If you know who they are list them in the report. You don’t have to go into detail about their position, but at least know why they are in opposition in case you’re asked.
- Ask for what you want. Providing the info is great, but that’s all it is if you don’t make the ask! (BTW – Legislators will be expecting you to do this.)
- Lastly, prepare a cover letter highlighting what’s included with all of your contact information.
- While there’s no specified length for the report, a really good measurement is one to two pages per issue. If it’s too long they won’t read it, but it needs to be long enough to share all the necessary information.
Want to learn more? Be sure to check out a copy of my book, A Journey To Yes to get the answers you need design a great report that will help you stand out from the crowd!
Your Partner in Advocacy…Kathy