How PR can support your legislative affairs work

We’re not a public affairs firm, but we work with enough state agencies and nonprofits to know that our public relations work goes hand-in-hand with public and legislative affairs. This year, our Creative Services and media relations teams stretched their muscles to support our clients across the board with a variety of legislative and advocacy-related work. Here are three big takeaways from the last couple of months.

Develop Key Messages and Sing in Harmony

When it comes to legislative work, you’re likely not the sole person responsible for communicating a message. In fact, the whole point of the work is likely to get as many people as possible to help amplify your message to the right people. When you have so many people in the mix, you want to make sure you’ve got your messages straight.

To support Virginia’s Community Colleges during the legislative season, our team collaborated on a suite of materials using key messages that were orchestrated from a singular song sheet of sorts. Several teams were creating a dozen different assets, so as materials got created across authors and teams, those core messages remained intact and consistent.

Public Affairs + Public Relations = Match Made in Heaven

Last fall, Hodges was tapped by Virginia Early Childhood Foundation to help support its “Gotta Have Childcare” work with Virginia Partnership Promise. There was a suite of materials created to communicate directly to legislators, created by its public affairs firm, but our team came in to take that messaging and translate it for the broader community. We created a social media toolkit with graphics and social post copy as well as produced several video cuts to help paint the picture of why early childcare and education is critical to fund and support. Governor Youngkin’s first budget preview focused on early childcare and education, where he announced a significant portion of funding to support the industry. Advocates continued to use the materials through the session to let legislators know that Virginians “Gotta Have Childcare!”

Media Relations Educates Reporters and the Public

I’m not sure if you’ve visited the LIS website recently, but you can only look at so many HB-193/SB-120/HJ-12/SJ-45’s before your head starts to spin. Compound that with high school civics and the nuances of Virginia’s government, and it’s no wonder people may be confused. Just because something made it out of committee doesn’t mean it’s a win.

When our clients are directly or indirectly involved with legislation, we use the advancement of legislation through subcommittees and committees as a touchpoint for media to keep them informed of the potential impacts. This last session, we talked to our reporter contacts about No Kid Hungry and the Virginia Association of Free and Charitable clinics. In the past, this also has included clients like Equality Virginia and VAratifyERA. By keeping in touch with reporters without the expectation of a story, you’re able to stay top of mind as a potential source for a future story and educate them on what’s happening (at a time when they may be monitoring several dozen bills or topic areas).

Casey Prentice

A self-proclaimed organizational junkie and data geek who confesses to a secret desire to be a professional organizer, Casey enjoys account management, writing, editing and digital content strategy. Her agency work has helped clients like Virginia’s Community Colleges, VCUarts and Swedish Match.

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