How to Hug a Porcupine: Relationship Building with Lawmakers and Why It’s Important

2019 United for Libraries President's Program

Presented Live: June 23, 2019

This United for Libraries President's Program, co-sponsored with the ALA Public Policy and Advocacy Office, focused on building relationships with lawmakers. Brad Fitch, president and CEO of the Congressional Management Foundation, discussed how to build relationships with elected officials and effective communication tactics.
Building relationships with elected officials can sometimes be difficult and uncomfortable. It forces you and your key stakeholders to get close to politicians in ways that may feel “prickly” – like hugging a porcupine. This program will help participants overcome that discomfort, revealing the methods and benefits for building relationships with elected officials.

Participants will learn: who members of Congress and state legislators listen to; what congressional staffers believe are the most effective communications tactics for influencing undecided Members of Congress; and how to conduct effective in‐person meetings, influence legislators at town hall meetings, as well as effective advocacy in the state/district.

Fitch received his B.A. degree in political science from Johns Hopkins University and his M.A. degree in journalism and public affairs from American University. He has spent 25 years in Washington as a journalist, congressional aide, consultant, college instructor, Internet entrepreneur, and writer/researcher."