Q: My members of Congress already know what we're doing in the community. Doesn't it seem self-serving to tweet at them to say, "Look at how great we are?"
A: You might think your legislators are paying attention, but trust me - they have information overload just like the rest of us.
When it comes time to act on issues that matter to our bottom line, such as retransmission consent, performance tax and streaming rates, they need to understand how important you are to your local community. This is what makes us different from cable, satellite, and streaming. They can't replicate your local connection and service.
It might feel like you are bragging, but in the absence of your voice, they are hearing from your competitors that your station doesn't matter; it's an old medium. We need to set the record straight and take credit for all the great things you're doing in the community.
Q: Why would we talk about coat drives and telethons when we have issues like retransmission consent and performance tax looming over us? Isn't it more important to talk about those issues?
A: It's definitely important to talk about the policy issues facing broadcasters with your members of Congress, but it's equally important to help them understand why you are critical to your local communities. Then, when faced with policy decisions about retransmission consent or other issues, lawmakers will have a better understanding of how their actions could have a ripple effect, killing jobs and hurting the listeners and viewers that rely on you.
Q: How long should my station participate in this effort?
A: There is no end date for this effort. Informing your legislators of the many ways your station serves your local community should be something you do year-round. Make it a daily practice to think of ways you can amplify your contributions to your community to your legislators.
Click here for a checklist of action items you can undertake every quarter to ensure your legislators are fully aware of all that you are doing.
Q: My station has made investigative journalism a priority. Our investigative unit has uncovered some scams that impacted members of our community. What is the best way to make our members of Congress aware of what we're doing?
A: Uncovering waste, fraud, abuse and scandal through investigative journalism is another very important way stations are serving their communities. Broadcast stations are the most trusted source of news and your viewers and listeners turn to you to uncover the truth. Your legislators need to be more aware of that. Before you break the news, ask your members of Congress to comment on how this information will impact the community, and include it as part of the story. After the story airs, share the piece with them through email or social media. Encourage those helped by your news coverage to also reach out to members of Congress to tell them how your station made a difference.
Q: I work at a small market station and I don't know how we would be able to do all of these things you've talked about. Do I need to do everything on the checklist?
A: We are fully aware that some stations have more resources than others to accomplish the activities on the checklist. But anything you do to increase your engagement with your legislators goes a long way in raising their awareness of your many contributions to your community. There are some very easy ways to get started. If doing all of them seems overwhelming, start with one of them. Just do something!
Q: When I speak with my member of Congress, should I bring up any of the key broadcasting issues that affect my station?
A: Yes, take the opportunity to raise some of the issues that are impacting your stations. This Congress, legislators could make decisions on the following issues: providing coronavirus relief to stations, advertising issuesand the Local Radio Freedom Act, which opposes new performance fees on radio. There are advocacy resources available to NAB members. Make sure you feel well versed in the issues before talking about them. But remember, the goal here is to help your legislators understand why you're critical to your local communities so that when they have to make decisions on issues that impact your station, they'll keep in mind all that you're doing for your audience and their constituents.
Q: Where can I get more information about key broadcasting issues?
A: NAB has a whole site dedicated to providing our members with tools and resources to engage in our advocacy efforts, including issue sheets on our key issues. The site is nab.org/AdvocacyResources. You will have to have your NAB.org login and password handy to access this members-only site.
Q: How will we know if our efforts are working?
A: The goal of this campaign is to increase your station's engagement with your members of Congress. So, if you begin to notice your legislators engaging with you more through your social media, or supporting your fundraising efforts, what you're doing is definitely working. Collectively, if all stations increase their efforts to communicate with their members of Congress, this could help impact our issues on Capitol Hill in a positive way.
Q: Our station has a good relationship with our legislators. I'd like to share some of the ways we've accomplished that with other stations. How can I do that?
A: We applaud you for proactively engaging with your legislators and encourage your station to share some of the ways you are successfully communicating with them. Email NAB@nab.org to submit your own examples or post them on social media using #WeAreBroadcasters and we will make sure to amplify your efforts on NABs social media channels.
Q: I think it helps us to hear an update about what's going on in Congress. It puts what we're doing for our communities in perspective. Should we expect more updates in the future?
A: We agree with you that knowing where we stand on our issues puts what you're doing to increase your legislators' awareness of your community service in perspective. We plan to keep you informed in different ways such as through email alerts and webcasts depending on the issue and urgency throughout the year.
Q: Are there other ways you recommend connecting with legislators beyond what is outlined on this website and the playbook?
A: Don't feel limited by the tips we've shared with you here. If you have other ideas about how to increase your station's engagement with your legislators, we encourage you to follow them through. But another idea is to hold a community service dinner or similar event to honor your station's efforts. Present awards for extraordinary efforts. Invite beneficiary organizations, community leaders and your legislators. Be sure to schedule it during a district work period.
Q: I hear what you're saying, but I really don't know if I can spare any staff to work on this. What's the downside of not participating?
A: If you don't build a relationship with your legislators, and they are faced with a decision that may impact your station, they may not think about the consequences it may have on you or your audience. That's a big downside. This really has to be a unified effort among all stations to have the most impact on Capitol Hill. I know it seems easier to let another station that may have more resources focus on this effort, but we need ALL stations to participate to make our voices be heard among policymakers, especially during this time as stations struggle from the financial effects of the pandemic. Try doing one activity at first, like writing an email to your legislator about your latest radiothon or telethon, or maybe start sending your members of Congress your press releases the most important thing is to just get started.
Download and print out a checklist to help you stay in touch with your legislators.
Use our calendar to learn when Congress is in session and when your legislators are back home.
Check out some case studies that demonstrate how they have successfully shared their stories with their members of Congress.