Both Lauren and I have been combing through the conference feedback forms from the Advocacy Intensive and we’ve both had this weird bit of cognitive dissonance. Our conference evaluation form is fairly standard. It uses 1-5 scales to rate various parts of the event, but then it also provides room for comments below each section.
It’s been interesting seeing the feedback come in. I’m happy to report that what we’re seeing so far is that folks generally really liked the Advocacy Intensive and have felt like they made a difference. We’re very thankful for this feedback because above all we want to empower people to take part in the process. We want folks to feel like coming to Washington was worth their time and effort. Most of the ‘scores’ and comments are positive, and that really pumps us up!
We do get some comments on the things we can do better. Most are very constructive and helpful, and we will absolutely use them when we are planning #HAN16. We welcome all feedback and we really do want to make each event better than the one before. On the other hand, we also get comments that, well, maybe aren’t the nicest or constructive.
The HAN team takes comments like those with a grain of salt of course, and as I said our aggregated responses were overwhelmingly positive. Still, it got me to thinking. The negative comments we get pale in comparison to some of the vitriol that Members of Congress routinely face. If you’re on Facebook, try this out- search for your Members of Congress and look at the comments sections of some of their facebook posts. I bet you know what you’ll see there (ONCE YOU WEED OUT THE RESPONSES IN ALL CAPS!!!). Folks can be pretty passionate in those posts and comments, right?
Now before I go any further, please don’t mistake the point of this post to be that:
- We’re going to change everything about the Advocacy Intensive to accommodate the comments of a small section of the attendees or:
- You should post mean things to your Member of Congress’ website or facebook accounts.
Instead, think of it this way: what we listen to the most is the constructive feedback, and I can guarantee that that’s who your Members of Congress strive to listen to also. Imagine if they heard it from a large number of their constituents! There’s data from the Congressional Management Foundation that we’ve seen that says the number of articulate and polite comments it takes to get the attention of a Congressional Communications Staffer can be as low as 10. Think about that for a second- if you and 9 of your friends all took 5-10 minutes to reach out to your Congressmen, each in your own words, and explain how you felt about an issue, it’s conceivable you’d get on their radar! Maybe it’s better to think of yourself not as a squeaky (ALL CAPS) wheel, but rather as the dashboard light on your car- the one that says ‘check engine’. It’s helpful, it points out a problem, and gives you some indication of what the solution might be.
That may seem counterintuitive, that as few as just 10 passionate advocates can make a difference on an issue, but it’s the truth! Now, commenting on facebook and twitter are great, but there are better and longer lasting ways to make your voice heard- keep following our blog to stay up to speed on all the latest tips and tricks!