How to Host a Legislative Site Visit
A “site visit” is when you ask an elected official to join you in the community. Site visits are essential to delivering your message. They will help legislators see, first hand, how their decisions will positively (or negatively) impact their constituents. Use the checklist below to plan a successful site visit.
Site Visit Checklist
Decide what you want to showcase:
Be sure to consider how what you present connects to the stroke survivor issues you want legislators to think about.
Decide who to invite:
Is this a visit for the legislator or staff or both? It is strongly recommended that you do not ignore the staff. Be aware of any related political situations in your community so you invite the right local representatives.
Draft the invitation:
Your one-page letter of invitation should be directed to the legislator’s scheduler or executive assistant, usually in the district office. Call about one week after sending the first request to ensure it has been received and to answer any questions.
For any site visit you will need to cover pretty much all logistics, including:
- How the legislator gets to and from the event.
- How much time the legislator can commit to the event. Do not try to cram too much into a short visit. Make sure to highlight your most important messages.
- Prepare for all types of weather. Make sure you have enough umbrellas, bug spray or whatever you’ll need to make the visit pleasant for everyone.
Make the case:
Think carefully about who is the best person to state your case, while keeping the total number of people to no more than five. Following are some individuals to consider:
- Practitioners: Legislators enjoy speaking with the people who perform the day-to-day tasks of the program or project.
- Beneficiaries: Include people who already benefit from your work or will in the future and can speak with conviction and enthusiasm about your services.
- Funders/supporters: Having those who have invested in your good work or who are leaders in the community present demonstrates existing support.
Record the event and invite the media:
You want to be sure to capture this important occasion. Some aspects to consider include:
- Photographer: Consider hiring a photographer or have someone on your staff designated to take pictures for use in a newsletter or on your website.
- Note-taker: Although you don’t want someone writing down every word out of the legislator’s mouth, do assign someone the task of preparing a written report after the visit.
- Media: Consider inviting the media – but only after warning the legislator!
Stroke Advocacy Network staff can help you develop and organize this type of event. Contact us for help if you’re thinking of hosting a site visit for one or more of your elected officials.