Last month, my friend Steve Bekkrus asked me to come to Atlanta and give a presentation to the U.S. Forest Service’s Southern Region Public Affairs conference. He asked me to give a presentation on the impact of the recent election and also on how to more effectively educate and engage Congress. I was delighted to have the opportunity and really enjoyed the conference.
It was a great opportunity to talk with public affairs professionals who work hard to make our public lands a national treasure. These are sharp professionals and it was a lively discussion.
As a follow up I sent them this list of ‘Take Aways.”
USFS Region 8 Public Affairs Conference
How You Can Communicate Effectively with Your Congressional Delegation
Here are some presentation “Take Aways.”
- Will a change of heart from the GOP take place so that politics is replaced by policy making? Regardless, your message should be tailored to appeal to the policy question not the political question. For example: “Public land is good because people enjoy outdoor recreation and it provides public benefits.”(political) vs. “Public land is an economic engine, leverages federal dollars 4 to1 and offsets the cost of public infrastructure.”(policy)
- Messaging: Answer the Why question. A picture = 1000 words. Focus on outcomes instead of outputs means use a narrative not numbers. Keep it simple; think tenkara!, How to Win Through Chit Chat: don’t tell them how important woods, water, wetlands or grasslands are. Take them there!
- Watch Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action; 18 minutes on the “Why” question. Well worth your time.
- Watch Derek Sivers: First Follower: Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy. Leadership is overrated. You want to find first followers who will help build a movement. Oh yeah and I relate it to tenkara in First Follower Theory.
- “Leave Behinds” should be laid out with key facts, photos and a narrative where you make you case with action words, images and key messages. The narrative is a great place to answer the “why” question. Leave some white space for a hand written note to reinforce a point, make an invitation or simple write, “please let me know if I can answer any questions or provide additional info. Keep it to one or two pages, remember “binders” are not always a good thing…
- My work with sportsmen and conservation has convinced me that the economic message is a winner. My experience is colored by what I know, outdoor recreation. Yes, the other sectors are important economically as well but the key is not to have one at the expense of others. You and your colleagues in the Forest Service are stewards, what you steward is key to quality of life and the economy, you can help make the decisions that make sense for all users.
- What I think your “Why” should be: Habitat = Opportunity = Economic activity. Healthy habitat creates recreational venues, much of it public land. Those venues provide sustainable, long-term economic activity. We must protect what we have like our National Forests and add more where we can. Lost venues means lost economic activity.For too long outdoor recreation has been relegated to second class status and seen as nothing more than a bunch of hobbyists. The facts show a different picture. Outdoor recreation deserves recognition for the economic contribution it makes to our country. Recreational venues in our nation, such as seashores, forests, parks, and wilderness, must be recognized for the important role they play in the economy. These public venues form the foundation of a national outdoor recreation system.Our policy makers should invest more, not less in these important assets to our nation’s economy. Outdoor Recreation Means Business is a blog post about the report.