The View From Here
by Ric Jackson
June 16th, 2014

Ten Tips for Hosting Public Officials

There’s no better time to get the attention of your member of Congress. With mid-term elections coming this fall, they will be getting out to as many events as possible to help secure re-election – and visiting your facility and mixing with your employees is just what they will be looking for.

Their reasons aren’t completely selfish. You, too, will benefit with positive PR and an opportunity to discuss how they can help you grow your business and be successful. The better informed your Congressperson is, the better they will be able to support your interests in Washington. And, as an industry, we have some important legislation that could make a positive impact on our opportunities.

I bring this up now because Congress takes a recess in August and many members take the opportunity to return to their home states, so planning should begin now if you want to get on their schedules. If you are unsure how to get in touch with your Congressperson, start with the Find Your Representative tool on the House of Representatives website.

Preparing for the visit.

Here are 10 quick tips to help you prepare for a successful visit. You can also download our Tip Sheet for more detail on any of these points.

1.Prepare your plant to show its best side. Prepare a map of the tour route and make sure your guests know which entrances to use. There should always be someone there to welcome them.

2. Select a spokesperson to conduct the tour. This person should have complete knowledge of your manufacturing process. Other attendees might include the general manager, business development manager and human resources manager.
3. Have a briefing with everyone involved in the visits. Prepare a script of events and conduct a mock tour. (Tours typically last 30-60 minutes).
4. Prepare a facility one-pager. This might include who you are, the number of employees, what you produce and a brief history. You should send your one-pager ahead of time to help the lawmaker prepare for the visit.
5. Create a Power Point presentation. You have an important story to tell, especially about how your company impacts the district. Your presentation might also include success stories, information about your products, jobs, payroll, employee benefits and legislative priorities. But try not to give everything away at once. Rather, allow some of it to come out during the tour.
6. Proudly display your products. At the event, have a special exhibit with promotional materials and company materials.
7. Offer the opportunity to speak to your entire workforce. If feasible, allow your guest to talk to employees and do some light politicking and give your employees a chance to ask questions. Give everyone a chance to shake hands and engage in conversation.
8. Invite the media. This is a great chance to get positive PR for your company and take advantage of photo ops. You can have the media join for the tour and/or participate in the address to employees.
9. Continue the conversation. Be sure to send a thank you note that includes key points covered in the tour, and be sure to invite him or her back. The hope is that this is just the beginning of many ongoing conversations.
10. Thank your employees. Be sure to recognize employees who contributed their time and expertise to making the tour a success. You might also encourage them to send personalized thank you notes to the Congressperson.
The “View from Here” is that getting to know your Congressperson can help you improve business conditions and employment for your company. Download our Tip Sheet and get involved today.

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