Why Bother with Washington, D.C., Fly-ins?

This is the first in an occasional series to help you advance your public policy success when conducting Washington, D.C., fly-ins with your employees and members.

You may work for a Fortune 1000 corporation, an Inc. 500 business, or a large association. No matter the type of organization, government plays a large role in what you can and cannot do. Your organizational success often hinges on your public policy efforts. And success inside the Beltway doesn’t come easy.

The Washington, D.C., fly-in represents a time-tested method for corporate employees and association members—be they top executives, physicians, developers, or financial services providers—to persuade public officials. In fact, 2011 research by the Congressional Management Foundation finds in person visits from constituents to be the single most influential strategy when a member of Congress has yet to make a decision on an issue.

Some organizations prepare their grassroots advocates flawlessly, with suits of armor like knights going into battle. Others, sadly, send them into competition on Capitol Hill with what amounts to cardboard swords and plastic shields.

Successful organizations and individual advocates are constantly on the lookout for ways to heighten their capabilities. Toward that end, ask yourself two questions of your fly-in efforts:

  1. Do I prepare my grassroots advocates adequately?
  2. What can I do to improve my organization’s efforts?

I strongly advise you to take a hard look at both questions, even if your response to query number one is “Yes.” No matter how proficient we may be at any task, there is always room for improvement.

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