In last month’s News from the Hill column, we presented the 100 Meetings Challenge, which urged members of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology to schedule 100 meetings with their members of Congress over the summer while they will be campaigning at home.
We know 100 meetings is a tall order. That’s why we’re calling it a challenge! We understand that many ASBMB members have never met with their elected officials and are unsure about how to set up and execute such meetings. We also understand that, while writing grants, running experiments and managing a lab, you don’t exactly have the time to become the next Wolf Blitzer.
Fortunately, the ASBMB public affairs staff is here to help you in your advocacy journey. Over the next few months, we will be hosting a series of webinars on advocacy training so that you will be fully prepared to meet with your member of Congress and discuss the groundbreaking research happening in your lab and at your institution thanks to federal funding.
Why advocacy is important
Tune in to the first webinar at 2 p.m. EST on July 11 to hear ASBMB President Jeremy Berg talk about the importance of advocacy and the vital role you can play in letting Congress know the value of basic research. ASBMB Director of Public Affairs Benjamin Corb will outline the political and budgetary landscape that Congress faces and describe the ASBMB advocacy strategy. Don’t know the difference between the executive and the legislative branches? That’s OK. We’ll give you a crash course on the federal budget process, explaining from where the National Institutes of Health receives its funding and how to advocate for it most effectively.
Setting up your meeting
In our second webinar, we’ll give you all the tools you need to schedule and execute a meeting with your member of Congress. From your initial meeting request to the thank-you letter you should send after you’ve met, we’ll let you know what to expect at each step along the way. Once you’ve scheduled your meeting, we’ll give you the talking points you’ll want to emphasize. The ASBMB’s science policy fellow, Julie McClure, will go over the state- and district-specific data you can use in your meeting to show your member of Congress exactly what kind of economic impact NIH funding has in your community. Finally, we’ll discuss how to foster your relationship with your member of Congress by continuing your communication and even inviting him or her to tour your lab.
Getting the most out of your meeting
In the final webinar, we’ll lay out some tips for making your meeting as effective as possible. Learn the 17 cardinal rules of science advocacy and how to apply them. Hear from congressional staff members on the do's and don’ts of meeting with Congress, and learn what kind of information truly resonates with them. You’ll even get to practice your advocacy elevator pitch and get feedback on how best to communicate your research to a nonscientific audience.
We can’t emphasize enough just how critical it is for you to participate in local advocacy efforts over the next few months. America faces an unprecedented federal deficit and a struggling economy. There are many in Washington who believe the only way to address these issues is through massive cuts to federal spending. Even those who aren’t considering a slash-and-burn approach will have to make very tough choices about where federal funds should go. That’s why it’s imperative that we let members of Congress know that cuts to federal funding for research cannot be an option and that, in fact, investments in research can be a vital source of growth that can help to turn our economy around. Be a voice for science!
E-mail Benjamin Corb at firstname.lastname@example.org today to volunteer to meet with your members of Congress.