Influencing the Power Base: Making an Impression on State and Local Officials

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Influencing the Power Base
Texas State Senator, Leticia Van de Putte, opened the session by saying it was simple, "Be honest and passionate." Van de Putte along with David Dunn, Executive Director of Texas Charter Schools Association; Dr. Mark Moreno, Vice President of Government Relations for the University of Texas; and moderator, Martha King, Health Program Director of the National Conference of State Legislators; joined the plenary to advise attendees on how to best make a lasting impression on state and local officials.
A theme of the session was the influence of a good story. "It's not just about the data-it's about the story. Put a face on it," said Van de Putte. Dunn agreed and said some of his best successes were achieved by finding a good story and running with it. 
King asked the panelists to give their best advice on getting through to legislators. Van de Putte lead the conversation by saying it was all about starting with her staff. She said she couldn't accomplish anything without their support. In his experience working with legislators, Dunn added that it is all about getting to know your people and making the right contacts. 
An important message echoed from all of the panelists was identifying and using the most effective communications channels. Van de Putte said she gets hundreds of emails daily. While she doesn’t have time to personally respond to, and read each one, she does make time for every single hand written note she is given. Moreno said in his experience it has been about doing the research. "Don't ever make assumptions. That's a common mistake," he said. All agreed that brevity was a necessity. Get to the point and tell your story they said.
Van de Putte went on to say, "After the legislation passes, the real work starts.” The panelists stressed the importance of building lasting relationships that go beyond one cause or situation. You never know when and where you’re going to need a friend they said.