Saturday, October 4, 2014
Grassroots Lobbying Webinar for Medical Cannabis Advocates: Part II
Special thanks to Jennifer Bevan- Dangel for providing us with such useful information.
Lobby Like a Pro 2:
The Outside Game
Common Cause Maryland
•This week’s goals:
•How to build the outside campaign
•Press strategies and when to use them
•Coalitions, grassroots, and other support
•Tips and tricks
Strategy vs Tactics
•Tactics: the elements that make up a campaign
•Strategy: the most efficient way to your goal
•Unless you have unlimited time and resources, strategy is key
•Stategies/tactics must all work together
•Takes a leap of faith; set your strategy and
keep to it
•Re-evaluate if the landscape changes
•Strategy is driven by your targets
•You can have multiple targets; may require
•Strategy and targets can evolve over a
•What is your objective?
•Who is your target?
•What is needed to move your target?
•Who else will be a critical target? What motivates them?
•How do you most effectively put
those pieces in place?
•Who will try to block reform and how do you
•Who will help you and how do you maximize their support?
•Where is the press on this now and how hard will it be to get them engaged?
•Is there an easier target or an easier way to get things done?
•Taking an hour to brainstorm will save countless hours later!
Types of Strategies
•Target is easy to move, just needs smart lobbying
•Use key people, ie other elected officials, coalition partners, major donors to
move your target
•Positive press coverage and minimal grassroots outreach can move your target
•Inverse is the threat of negative press
•Apply direct pressure from the grassroots through petitions, action alerts,
•Building a movement from scratch; press, grassroots, grasstops, and lobbying
Elements of a Strategy
•Is your target blocking change? The hero to save you? A potential leader? The
•Create a message box, keep consistent throughout a campaign.
•Know your real objectives
•Don’t let your immediate objective – ie passing a bill – creates a strategy
that could undermine your ultimate objective – ie getting a regulatory system
that will work in real life
•Make sure you have the real target
•Is there a “man behind the curtain” blocking reform?
•Know who your key partners will be and work together
•Ideally you can all be on the same page with strategy
•If you can’t agree at least stay coordinated; good cop/bad cop
•If partners would be toxic, communicate but keep arm’s length
•Objective: Pass Bill 999, to allow medical marijuana in MD
•Target: Committee Chair Carter-Conway
•Secondary Target: Senate President Miller, swing votes on committee
•Strategy: Create a hero moment for Conway, other Senators
•Tone: “you can be a leader”, “our kids will thank you”
•Health industry, big pharma
•Nurses, recreational marijuana advocates, parents groups
•Build coalition of health groups
•Parent lobby night
•Press outreach, goal: editorial in Sun
•Report on how pharma is trying to block these advances
•Maryland ranks worst in the nation when it comes to the compactness of our
congressional districts. Four of our eight districts are among the most
gerrymandered in the country.
•Maryland’s current plan has been called “comically gerrymandered”. Critics
have called the map “highly partisan and racially charged”.
•Elected officials cannot adequately represent constituents when the district
slices through counties, communities, and neighborhoods.
•Gerrymandered districts create situations where all votes are not equal, and
they undermine confidence in the democratic process.
Maryland must take the politics out of redistricting and create a fair and
equitable process for drawing the lines.
•There are different models for drawing district maps in a fair and equitable
manner such as citizen, independent, or non-partisan commissions.
•We need to study the types of reforms that have been enacted in other states
and determine what will work best in Maryland.
•The final process that Maryland adopts must ensure that minority communities
have a seat – and a voice – at the table.
Voters should chose their elected officials – elected officials should not chose
•An independent process allows for greater transparency and public participation
when drawing district lines.
•Minority communities have a greater ability to ensure adequate representation
that will listen to their concerns.
•Elected officials can get to know their communities and fairly and adequately
represent all the neighborhoods in their districts.
We must act now to get a new process in place before the lines are drawn again
•Maryland draws new congressional and legislative districts every ten years, to
update the maps for population changes.
•If we establish a commission to study different processes now, we can have a
new process in place by 2022 when the maps will be drawn again.
Maryland’s congressional districts are drawn for politics – not people.
Build a team
•Should meet regularly, must agree on strategy and tone, should have sense of
time commitment from each group/person and their specific strengths
•This layer drives the train. They are dictating tactics and keeping the effort
•Should meet often enough to stay informed and engaged. Should understand the
tone and the general structure of the campaign. Know their level of engagement
and helpful relationships.
•This layer should have specific deliverables, steering committee holds them
accountable to perform.
•Must agree with the objective of the campaign. Willing to put their name to the
effort. Should be asked to do more (ie call legislators or circulate petition)
but don’t expect it to always happen.
Do you want them on your team?
•Some groups are worth spending time to cultivate, get engaged.
•Other groups should not be at the table or should be kept at arms’ length.
•Your coalition should reflect your strategy.
•Scenario: advocates for legalization of marijuana want to help your bill. How
do you include them?
•Are they respected? Are they strategic? Do they have good/bad relationships?
•Will they change the tone or message of the campaign?
•Will they respect your goals and strategies?
•Do you work well with their leadership – mutual trust and respect?
•Letters to the Editor: 100-200 words; anyone local to the paper can submit.
Tend to relate to a story in the paper.
•Op-eds: 250-500 words. You can draft and place; or cultivate VIPs to place
them. Should have a theme or unique perspective.
•Editorials: Written by the paper editorial board. Tend to be related to
timely/relevant topics. You can cultivate by meeting with the editorial board.
•Press conference: actual event, press is invited. Advisory out in advance to
notify, release out immediately before/after for them to quote. Can also do
webinars, conference calls.
•Release: get out information, quotes, recent research or reports, etc. Draft
the release so the press can use it as written.
Tips for Talking with Press
•What are reporters looking for?
•Something different today than yesterday.
•Surprising, unexpected, counterintuitive. The first, biggest, most
•Raises new issues, problems, solutions – contains tension.
•Linked to what’s already in the news.
•Intriguing to your neighbor.
•Compelling human stories.
•Prepare your message
•Know your message before you speak to a reporter. Stick to your message and you
will feel more in control of the interview.
•Use concise, clear language to convey your message. Avoid jargon, acronyms.
•Keep it to no more than three points.
•Talking with reporters
•When a reporter calls, ask questions first. Be cautious without being
•Don’t say “no comment.” If a reporter asks you about something you don’t want
to talk about, simply say: “I’d rather not talk about that, but I’d like to tell
you about this.” And then return to the main message you want people to know.
•Be candid and honest – never tell a reporter something untrue. If you don’t
know the answer to a question, tell the reporter you will try to find out or
refer him/her to another good source if possible.
•Don’t argue with reporters. Don’t be defensive.
•Nothing is off the record.
•Be sensitive to reporters’ tight deadlines. Call back promptly.
•Advertising space in local or online papers; radio ads
•Don’t forget blogs and political bloggers.
•Use Twitter to reach reporters.
•Re-tweet their articles and tag them in your tweets.
•Know the reporters that cover your issue
•Have a quick list of folks to call when a story breaks
•Occasionally give a key reporter a scoop on a good story
•Get to know them as people; grab a coffee or lunch
•Be a resource
•Thank reporters after a good article, thank editors after a good editorial
•Make sure your target sees your press hits!
•What type of person will care about your issue + take action?
•Where do you find them?
•How do you get them engaged and keep them engaged?
•Have the materials in place to quickly connect
•Website, fact sheets, petition and/or postcards, contact info for legislators
•Have a system for collecting names
•Have the system in place before the names!
•Go where they are
•Table at festivals, ask to speak to groups, get partners to circulate
•Use social media to connect
•Promoting posts pays
•Be strategic! You can’t be everywhere; focus on people who can influence your
•Facebook, Twitter = must have
•Tumblr, Linked In, Instagram – ‘nice to have’
•Use consistent hashtags
•Legislators are using social media; almost all are on facebook, most are on
twitter. Organize a coordinated moment of action where the target’s twitter
page gets inundated with tweets on the issue.
•Wordpress is cheap, easy to use but just gives a website platform
•Integrated tools with targeted email systems can be worthwhile. Nationbuilder,
GoDaddy both good tools
•Web domains are pretty cheap, worth buying related names
•Change.org or MoveOn.org for petition sites
•Use Word templates for quick, snazzy fact sheets
•Easel.ly growing in popularity
•Get business cards from Staples and print your own.
•Include website, facebook, and twitter on EVERYTHING
Building the pressure
•Use different types of grassroots contacts:
•Mass email 1 person
•Personalized email 2-3 people
•Real letter 5-10 people
•Phone call 20 people
•In-person visit 50 people
•Fake it till you make it
•Literature drops in and around your target’s neighborhood
•Grassroots outreach to people your target will run into
•Gathering names in front of target’s favorite grocery store
•Getting someone the target knows well can do more than getting 500 people off
•Town hall or forums
•Brings new people in, gets existing people more engaged. Can invite target to
speak, puts pressure on them to commit to action. Can generate press coverage.
•Tele-town hall; done through conference call. Cost associated with this
•Grassroots canvass; go door-to-door.
•Phone banking; there are services that let you do patch-through calls to
•Working fairs, festivals, other events.
•Train leaders to give presentations and speak to groups. Have a power-point
they can use.
•House parties to engage new people, get petitions signed.
•Fun run or walk; sit-ins; circle the state house; picnic or party; etc
•Think through how the tactics interplay with each other
•A big grassroots petition drive could be press worthy if done in a unique or
•Always ask for money
•You can always spend money so don’t hesitate to ask for it!
•You can ask a non-profit to be your fiscal agent to collect and spend tax
•You don’t need an official organization to be a ‘coalition’
•Give yourself a flashy name and always make yourself seem bigger than you are
•Don’t be afraid of the limelight…
•Your story is powerful and you are the best advocate
•… but don’t forget to share it.
•Reporters like to have different sources so line up other speakers