An interesting study came out last week reporting on congressional staffers' attitudes towards Citizen Advocacy. For the report by The Partnership For A More Perfect Union, the organization surveyed 260 congressional staff on their opinions towards communication with constituents via both electronic and traditional mediums. I won't rewrite the great summary of findings on the Partnership's website, but I will draw some additional connections and insights from theirs, and other recent work on the subject.
In December, The Pew Internet and American Life Project released a study about Americans and Twitter. The Atlantic gleaned five interesting facts from Pew's Twitter report, I will share just one:
- Just 6% of all Adult Americans use Twitter (18 million people), or 8% of all (American, adult) internet users.
- 51% of senior managers and communications staffers responded that Twitter is either Very Important (12%) or Somewhat important (39%) for communicating the Member/Senator's views and activities to constituents. Which is more than thought the same of an MOC or Senator's own Blog (10% Very, 29% Somewhat Important). Local media came out on top with 100% of respondents identifying it as Very or Somewhat important (80% Very, 20% Somewhat).
- 42% of senior managers and communications staffers responded that Twitter is either Very Important (4%) or Somewhat important (38%) for understanding constituent's views.
- 42% of senior managers and mail staffers responded that comments on social media sites had a lot of positive influence or some influence (1% a lot, 41% some) on swaying an undecided Member/Senator's decision on an issue. Compare that with a visit to a Washington office (97%) or a district/state office (94%), or letters to the editor (80%)
All of this echo's Jake Brewer's "Tragedy of Political Advocacy" piece in the Huffington Post last fall, which is definitely worth a read if you are in the business of influencing congress.
So how will this information change the way your organization engages in legislative advocacy?