Management

NSTA Advocacy in Action — How You Can Become an Advocate

Ronna Weber
Posted on March 27, 2017
The 2016 election brought a new administration along with seven new senators and 56 new representatives to Washington, D.C. Shown here is the U.S. Senate.
The 2016 election brought a new administration along with seven new senators and 56 new representatives to Washington, D.C. Shown here is the U.S. Senate.

Following every election, those elected have the potential to bring about change. This change can be an opportunity for you to become an advocate for your business by developing relationships with your elected officials, helping them to see you as a resource as they understand the services you provide in their district.

From a federal perspective, the 2016 election brought a new administration along with seven new senators and 56 new representatives to Washington, D.C. Those new officials and their teams are learning a whole host of new things as they begin their service, and they also need to learn about school bus transportation in order to better represent our needs and our industry.

There are several great reasons to increase your advocacy, but none better than that it is your opportunity to provide a face for your business as an employer in the district or state. Members of Congress are in and out of schools attending events and meetings all the time, and you may even transport their children to school, but helping them to see that you are an employer in their constituency is important, too.

In addition, developing a relationship with these members of Congress and their staffs can be an invaluable tool for your business. You never know when you will bump into a member of Congress or their staff, but you also never know when legislation will be introduced that could positively or negatively affect your operation. Establishing a relationship well in advance of a need is critical to ensuring that your needs are understood and perhaps considered by the member of Congress and their staff.

The internet and social media provide great opportunities for you to know what’s important to your member and where they may be in your district. Members update their websites often, and they regularly issue press releases and newsletters informing their constituents about their activities and initiatives. In addition, following members of Congress on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube are great ways to hear their latest news.

Attending public events, such as town halls, is a great way to get to know members and their staffs, and it allows you to position yourself as a representative of the industry and showcase your business as an engaged and thoughtful business leader in your community.

Once you have established a relationship, you should invite the member of Congress and their staff to tour your facility. Any opportunity for you to share your story as a job creator and an invested player in the local economy is beneficial.

Ronna Weber is executive director of the National School Transportation Association.
Ronna Weber is executive director of the National School Transportation Association.

This is also a great chance to discuss how the federal government can help your company grow or how it is impeding the growth of your company. Members are often home in the district many times throughout the month, and calling to schedule a meeting is typically warmly received.

Finally, if you are able to politically and financially, attend a member of Congress’ political fundraiser by contributing to their campaign. This is an important part of the political process. Campaign staff and office staff are separate, and strict federal laws govern clear delineation of the two. The political campaign will have a separate website, which can be a great place to begin your engagement with a member in that capacity.

Advocacy is easy — you can take it on when you’re ready and increase at your own pace. It can be truly beneficial to your operation.

A time of change is a great time to reassess your efforts, refocus your priorities, and engage.

Related Topics: legal issues, NSTA

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