PFI members are the most effective advocates for pellet issues. The in-depth knowledge, passion, and dedication that are shown in every day conversations about the industry can be utilized in PFI’s grassroots advocacy movement. Grassroots advocacy is an invaluable tool PFI members need to use more often. It can come in many forms, including: plant and facility tours, office visits/correspondence with elected officials, coalition building, and letters to the editor. All are among the tools PFI needs to utilize within its government affairs agenda to create a successful grassroots advocacy campaign.
Plant and Facility Tours
Visits by elected officials to your company’s facilities are an effective way for grassroots participants to build relationships. Plant tours illustrate first hand how plant processes relate to legislative issues and are an excellent tool for grassroots advocacy. Tours showcase your facilities’ environmental, health, and safety standards. A plant tour is an appropriate and useful way to educate elected officials and help increase the ‘comfort index’ of grassroots participants.
Office Visits and Correspondence
As a PFI member, you should find time to contact your elected officials (and their staffs) who represent districts in which you have operations, telling them about the issues important to you and the pellet industry. Contact them by phone, stop by their district offices, or attend one of their town hall meetings. These meetings offer tremendous opportunity for you to personally voice the issues important to our industry, and provides PFI staff the opportunity to identify elected officials and staff that support our policies. These outreach efforts help build lasting relationships with elected officials who support PFI’s mission.
The objective of coalition outreach and development should be to establish a vast network of supporters who will enable the pellet industry to better advocate the PFI message with a diverse voice. Coalition building also provides PFI with an opportunity to strengthen and broaden the industry, while persuading others to support PFI policy recommendations. Coalition building will involve reaching out to more than just the people we know. It will take branching out to environmental and agricultural groups, energy companies, health care associations, and manufacturing groups, among others. The more diverse a coalition we create, the better our chances of advancing PFI interests. Coalition building is an ongoing process and does not happen overnight.
Letters to the Editor
Writing letters to the editor of local newspapers is an easy and highly effective way to thank elected officials or those seeking elected office who support PFI issues. Earned media for elected officials is coveted and these letters go a long way in establishing good rapport with these offices. Elected officials often monitor the op-ed section of newspapers and take notice of the opinions relevant to their offices. These letters may impact the positions they take on issues. In addition, letters to the editor can help educate people in your community about PFI issues. Letters to the editor are widely read and reach a large audience, becoming an effective tool for advocating PFI issues.
Again, grassroots advocacy simply means getting involved. PFI needs to employ a grassroots approach to legislative advocacy which will lead to legislative victories. PFI staff is ready to assist in all aspects of grassroots advocacy. If you have any questions on how to get started in a grassroots advocacy effort, please contact PFI staff.