One of the most effective tools in a government relations strategy is an active grassroots network. For grassroots efforts to be successful, your involvement is crucial to building a strong, connected network of key individuals and organizations in the banking industry and community. These networks ensure that the financial industry is heard in the Pennsylvania state legislature. Members of our grassroots network often do the following activities to foster stronger relationships with members of the Pennsylvania state legislature:
- Send an email regarding a specific issue
- Call state legislators to tell them your position on upcoming pieces of legislation
- Host a bank visit
- Host a community banking event
Click here to locate your legislator.
Top 10 Grassroots Tips
- Communicate Effectively
Put your thoughts in your own words. This is especially important if you are responding to something you read. Legislators who receive numerous letters with identical wording may discount them as part of an organized pressure campaign.
- Policy Arguments Should Focus on the Local Impact
PA Bankers can advocate the banking industry’s view on the impact of legislation on banks across Pennsylvania, but we cannot explain how legislation will affect your financial institution and your employees directly. Legislators want to know what effect policies will have at home.
- Don’t Just Visit When You Need a Favor
You know the feeling you get when certain individuals only contact you when they need a favor. Legislators are no different. To build a relationship with a legislator, invest the time by scheduling a lunch, invite him/her into your bank or to a special event or branch opening, and be sure to respond to the legislator’s questions quickly.
- Do Your Homework
Research your lawmaker’s professional, legislative and personal interests by going to www.pabanker.com. Which committees is he/she on? PA Bankers staff is always willing to provide you with information on legislators.
- Schedule an Appointment When You Want a Personal Visit
Most members of the General Assembly try to balance their time. They are more than willing to meet with constituents but appreciate the courtesy of an appointment.
- Know Your Subject Matter Inside and Out
If you are going to be a spokesperson for an issue or a cause, then you should be prepared not only to define it but also to explain and defend it. Association staff and Volunteer Banker Committee Members are always available to assist in this process.
- Use Your Resources
PA Bankers have developed a Government Relations website on which you can look up information on specific issues, print and e-mail advocacy letters, and access information about your legislators. Visit www.pabanker.com and click on “Government Relations.”
- Never Guess
When communicating with elected officials, get straight to the point of the meeting and state your case clearly and concisely. Be prepared to answer any questions the legislator may have. However, never guess. If you do not have a response to a particular question, offer to look into it and get back to him or her with the answer.
- Utilize Your Events to Grow a Relationship
Has your bank announced a new program or participated in a senior citizen event, opened a new branch, etc.? Utilize your events by inviting elected officials to attend or speak. Invite your legislators into the bank on a yearly basis.
- Build Credibility
As in every relationship, trust and respect are earned over time. Strive to ensure you know the facts on legislative issues and keep commitments. Legislators are inundated with “expert” requests; they work with people they trust to accurately filter this information.