Voices in Advocacy’s Roger Rickard provides some simple strategies for getting your voice heard.
10 Meetings Industry Advocacy Tips
by Tyler Davidson, Meeting Focus
It seems it’s always open-season on the meetings industry, with politicians tossing the issue of face-to-face government meetings around like a football, and just when it seems industry advocacy groups such as U.S. Travel make some headway in tamping out a specific threat, another fire starts to rage.
Case in point: Recent legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) that seeks to cut federal travel expenses by 50 percent via using videoconferencing rather than meeting face-to-face.
To be fair, recent scandals with government meetings—notably the GSA (General Services Administration) debacle that shook the foundation of the government meetings segment—are certainly fuel that feeds the fire, but taking draconian steps just to seemingly score political points by slashing travel, most agree, is a major damper on the economy.
The fact that the U.S. travel industry is a job-creation machine—14.1 million Americans jobs are directly or indirectly supported by the travel industry, which places it as the sixth-largest source of U.S. employment, according to the U.S. Travel Association—doesn’t seem to end the game of political “whac-a-mole” that seems as predictable as the change of the seasons. But in the end, combatting the anti-travel effort mainly comes down to individual grassroots efforts.
“If you don’t speak up, it’s not shame on them for not doing what you want–it’s shame on you for not speaking out,” says Roger Rickard, founder of Voices in Advocacy, which rallies those in the meetings industry to speak up about the value of meetings. “As an industry, we need to do a better job of educating, engaging and activating the entire meetings community about the important exchange of information that flows during live face to face meetings.”
Rickard (http://rogerrickard.com) recently teamed with the Convention Industry Council to launch the Meetings Industry Advocacy Hub (http://cic.advocacyhub.info), which provides a set of tools top help meeting professionals speak out about the value of the industry.
Meetings Focus asked Rickard to provide 10 tips for meetings industry advocacy that anyone can easily employ to stand up and be heard:
- Tell the whole truth. Tell the whole truth. Tell the whole truth–always!
- Prepare. Do your homework. How does the issue affect their district and their constituents? Remember: “All politics is local.”
- Clearly know what you want. Frame the issue the way you want them to see it.
- Strategize. Solidify your base, and spend most of your energy convincing the undecided.
- RELATIONSHIPS. RELATIONSHIPS. RELATIONSHIPS. It is the long term basis of influence. It is not who you know that’s important, it is who you need to know. Get to know key elected officials now, before you need them.
- Communicate: Use a combination of different communication tools, such as personal visits, letters, telephone calls, e-mails, letters to the editor, op-ed pieces, public presentations and newspaper or magazine articles. Remember to think local.
- BE ACCOUNTABLE! Do what you said you were going to do, when you said you were going to do it. FOLLOW-UP is the Key!
- Be their resource. Offer to provide them the tools necessary to assist and keep them informed.
- Understand how to compromise. Oftentimes, a little is better than none.
- LISTEN! LISTEN! LISTEN! Your ears are more important than your mouth. What does it take to get their support?
Bonus strategy! Build alliances! Build coalitions! Reach out to those who share your same concern.