International organizations may find working with policy makers in the United States to be a daunting and trying feat, however, it does not need to be. There are practices international organizations should consider implementing when trying to create awareness or push for change.
Often times, international organizations take on emotion issues. Since the issues are emotional in nature, it is necessary to ensure that the messaging campaign is both thoughtful and factual. Policy makers need to know the facts in order to provide assistance and elevate the organization’s profile and issues. Attention from political leaders will ensure that the organization is always part of the conversation.
It is also critical to develop a plan to regularly communicate with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, administration, and thought leaders in D.C. This will help in the effort to advocate and ensure developments and maintaining those relationships and engagement.
International organizations or foreign governments working with a consulting or government relations firm that understand the lay of the land in Washington and how things operate can also help ensure that messages do not get lost in translation.
For example, in 2015 members of a South Asian diaspora came to the McKeon Group seeking help in raising the visibility of their organization on Capitol Hill, within the federal government and in policy circles.
The McKeon Group has worked to position the organization as a go-to resource that provides thoughtful and substantive information on extremely challenging issues, including human rights violations in the diaspora group’s home country.
The McKeon Group encourages congressional and administration support for the group’s human rights initiatives through outreach to policymakers on the Hill, administration and think tanks. This targeted education campaign has resulted in the establishment of an active congressional caucus, a policy focused working group, quarterly lobby days and special events.
Due to the efforts of the McKeon Group, the organization has successfully grown their brand in Washington, DC and has resulted in positive movement in the administration’s policy and increased congressional support.
Over the course of our engagement, McKeon Group has helped send bipartisan letters to Secretary of State John Kerry signed by dozens of members of Congress; organized three lobby days with diaspora constituents from around the United States; assisted in organizing three congressional caucus briefings and growing the bipartisan caucus to over a dozen members; and advocated on behalf of a congressional hearing that garnered attention in the national and international press.