Shortcut Navigation:

Staging Cleveland

strengthening, unifying and connecting greater Cleveland's arts and culture sector

Reference Desk

Share

Legislative Visits

071

Legislative visits are a good way to educate and build relationships with your
legislators. Remember, not all visits with your legislator are considered lobbying. It is
beneficial to meet with legislators periodically — do not only request meetings when you
have a request for the legislator.

Request a meeting — Once you decide you want to meet with a legislator one-on-one,
call the legislator’s office. Work with the legislator’s aide or scheduler to set a time and
date. If leaving a message, remember to keep it short, but include your name,
organization, phone number, if you are a constituent, and the purpose of the meeting.
Anticipate a phone call back in couple of days, but do not hesitate to make follow-up
calls if necessary.

Location — Legislators are often flexible on where they meet, however, make it
impactiul for them. Either make it convenient, like meeting in their offices, or make it
part of your meeting, like showing them around your facility.

  • General Assembly members are willing to meet either in Columbus or in their district. Legislators are typically in Columbus on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Friday through Monday they are typically in their districts. When meeting in Columbus, anticipate meeting in the legislator’s office but always verify this. State legislators typically do not have legislative offices in their district. Be prepared to suggest a location for a district meeting, but also be prepared to meet at a business office or restaurant.
  • Congressional members are willing to meet either in D.C. or in their district. Legislators are typically in their district during recesses and in D.C. during session. When meeting in D.C., anticipate meeting in the legislator’s office but always verify this. Congressional members typically have legislative offices in their district.
  • County Council/County Executive/County Commissioners have offices in their county. While meeting at their offices is appropriate, if your message is better framed or told at one of your facilities, make sure to invite them to your location.

Duration — Plan on spending a half hour with a legislator. Always verify the length of
the meeting when setting the time and date. If you need more than a half hour, specify
that when requesting the meeting.

Legislator vs. Aide — Legislators are very busy. Their schedules can be fluid. Be
flexible and willing to meet with an aide. Sometimes committee, session, or another
meeting runs long and only the aide will be available to meet with you. Building
relationships with a legislative aide can be just as important as the relationship with the
legislator.

Number of people — Three to four people should be the maximum number of people
attending legislative meetings. Legislative offices can be small, more than 3 or 4
people can make the room feel very crowded. More people can also dilute a message
or story you are trying to share. When planning who will attend a meeting, make sure
everyone knows which points they are to make — have talking points and a plan.

Keep focused — 3 key points — When meeting with a legislator make sure you stay on
point. Prior to the meeting, discuss the main three points for the meeting. Make sure
your ask for the legislator is clear.

Allow time for questions — Before leaving, always ask if the legislator or aide has any
questions. Be prepared to respond to questions. If you are unsure, tell them that and
follow up with the answer.

Offer yourself or your organization as a resource — Especially if you and your
organization are an expert on the topic you are presenting, make sure you affirmatively
offer you and your organization as a future resource for the legislator. Remember,
legislators cannot be an expert on every topic. Even if a topic is not a legislator’s
priority now, it could become one in the future.

Leave behinds — Remember to take something as a leave behind after the meeting.
This should be short, no more than 2 pages. Make sure this document makes the
same 3 points you made in the meeting. Include your contact information on this
document, so a legislator or aide can contact you with questions in the future.

Follow-up — Remember to send a thank you letter after the meeting. If the legislator
had questions that you could not answer during the meeting, remember to find the
answers or provide another resource to answer the questions promptly.

Was this helpful?