One of the most effective ways of introducing your programs to your policy maker is to host a site visit. Their understanding will go a long way through an up-close and personal tour. Remember, these are the people who can help you expand and improve your program by ensuring funding and effective policies.
Nevertheless, a successful tour needs meticulous planning. Below are ten tips to make your site visit a success.
Before you begin any planning, get permission from school officials. Keep everyone informed.
What type of impression do you want the policymaker to have of your college? What programs do you want to highlight? Brainstorm and select the most important features you want to show off.
Develop a Draft Agenda
Most importantly, make sure classes is in session for the tour. Plan a short and concise introductory presentation about the college and the programs the policymaker will see. Following the brief presentation, schedule an organized tour.
Make the Invitation
Now that you have your agenda, the next step is to invite your targeted policymakers. Fax or mail a brief letter to the policymaker at his or her local office at least six weeks before the scheduled date. To find the contact information for your Member(s) of Congress, login to your NCWE membership page and select "Profile Home” on the right hand rail of the webpage. If you have not updated your profile (your legislator's information will not be available on your profile home without an updated address in your profile), then visit the NCWE districting webpage: https://ncwe.site-ym.com/districting/default.aspx
Briefly introduce yourself, your program, and state the purpose of the letter. Explain why you would like the official to visit your program (to see how an example of a workforce education program in their community, the importance of supporting such initiatives, etc.). Include specific information about the visit (date, time, location, others who may be invited, whether the media will be invited, what activities are planned for the visit). Public officials have very busy schedules, so you'll need to be as flexible and accommodating as possible.
Follow-Up With Their Scheduler
The policymaker's scheduler should be contacted seven to ten days after you have mailed the letter. You should keep in mind that you need to be flexible with the date and tour arrangements. You should take every step to accommodate the policymaker. NOTE: Federal legislators will most likely be in their home districts Mondays, Fridays, and on the weekends.
Determine and Schedule Press Activities
Work with the policymaker's press secretary, if they have one, to determine appropriate press activities. Send a press release to the local media inviting them to attend the tour. In addition to giving the policymaker publicity, it will increase the community's interest in your program. Be sure to follow up with the media to make sure that they attend since the policymaker will be expecting them! Take plenty of photographs. If you are unable to have the media present during the tour, send the local reporters a follow-up summary and a photograph for their use.
Conduct the Tour
When the policymaker and his or her staff arrive, distribute descriptions of your programs, success stories about students and any other relevant information you feel promotes your program. Make sure that your name, address and phone number are on every document so staff can contact you later. Let the policymaker know the scope of the program: how many people you serve and what impacts the program has on families, the community, local businesses and the local economy. Explain why continued funding for workforce education is important to students, jobseekers and businesses in the state or district. Encourage interaction between the policymaker and students. It is helpful for policymakers to make connections with those who benefit from the program and see the changes in people's lives that good workforce education programs make.
Have a few supporters present, such as parents, students and business partners, to help you make the case. Most policymakers are in-tune with the needs of local business and industry leaders. And every policymaker likes to hear stories and experience for themselves how legislation they have supported has positively impacted students' lives.
Make Your Pitch
Emphasize how additional resources could benefit students. While you have the policymaker's undivided attention, make a pitch for support. Ask the policymaker to support your programs through increased funding and effective policies. Remember to be specific if current legislation is pending.
Send thank you letters to the policymaker and any staff who attended. Reiterate the need for additional funding and more effective policies for your program. Include copies of press coverage. Include a photo of the policymaker with your students and supporters to remind them how important workforce education is to their community.