Public advocates have one tool they turn to when trying to influence legislators: the grassroots email campaign. But they needn’t bother.
It doesn’t work, according to The 2020 Grassroots Influence Pulse, a study conducted by The Showalter Group, Inc. for the Grassroots Influence Pulse.
“While email is still the most frequently deployed advocacy tactic, it isn’t associated with increased legislative victories,” states said Amy Showalter, founder of the Showalter Group and one of the research authors. “In fact, the statistics show that email negatively correlates with legislative success–the more time spent on it, the less successful an organization is,”
Social media messages also don’t work well.
Showalter argues that “the more time an advocacy leader spends urging stakeholders to post social media messages, the less success they experience.”
It could be that legislators are no longer listening.
Of the respondents, only 8% say relationships with legislators are improving. And a minority feel that legislatures are mostly listening instead of mostly talking.
Email is now receiving almost 60% of an advocate’s time, with non-internet communications not quite reaching 50% and social media with a little over 25%.
Email also greatly outpaces Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Advocacy websites are second to email.
Of the advocates polled, 23.3% are investing more in social media this year, versus 23.1% who are making more investments in grassroots events and 14.9% in face-to-face meetings with legislators.
Of all the advocacy groups in the country, the most admired are the AARP, the National Association of REALTORS and the National Rifle Association, “mostly for the discipline of their followers.,” the report states.
What does Showalter recommend?
It’s critical for organizers to focus their time and energy on face-to-face meetings with lawmakers, conducting grassroots events, and facilitating member relationships with elected officials, which our research found does lead to legislative results, even if it’s difficult and tedious,” she states.