What is “Bird-Dogging” & How to Do It
Your member of Congress spends much of his or her time in their home district. They often meet with constituents and special interest groups, or hold community open houses, town halls or when running for re-election candidate forums for the public.
Going to an event where your member of Congress is speaking and asking questions is an excellent way to thank your member in public, call them to action on a particular issue or ask them to take a leadership role on one of our issues. Using our Thank-N-Spank lobbying tools can add an effective element of theater and humor to your actions
The media is often at these events and covers the questions asked of the member. A prop like this is often a nice way to focus ones request, symbolize ones sentiments, and provide the press with a photo or soundbite. This media coverage will help influence your member of Congress, educate the community in the room and have it covered by a local paper “a super triple whammy!”
Here are some tips for ensuring your success in delivering your message clearly and amplifying your action beyond the event.
Tips on Attending a Town Hall or Candidate Forum:
1. Do your homework.
2. Prepare questions ahead of time. Rehearse reading the question or comment. (Spine “Thank You” or Spineless Citation text.)
a. Use the EPIC format (engage them, state the problem, illustrate the solution, call them to action) to craft your questions.
b. Be confident, considerate and persistent about getting an answer to your question.
3. Get familiar with your Congressman or the other candidates if applicable.
a. You can find info on current representatives or senators at: http://www.house.gov/ or http://www.senate.gov/.
b. You can ask for a bio and background on candidates at their campaign headquarters.
4. Work in teams.
b. Designate a note taker to jot down all info and promises made by the Congressperson.
c. Designate a videographer, as You-Tube, Google video and other methods are an excellent way to amplify your message. Sometimes the Backbone Campaign can help you distribute your footage as well, so be sure to share pictures and video from actions you take.
d. Seek out media after the meeting to talk about our issues if they were not covered.
e. Seek out the candidates after the meeting to introduce yourself and follow up on your question, or ask it if you were not able to ask the question during the meeting.
f. Leave the event with a clear plan to follow up with their staff.
5. Stay on message.