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SPEAKING OF ILMA…

Going to contact your representatives in Congress? You’re going to need to know what to say!

What is an Elevator Pitch?

An elevator pitch is a short summary used to quickly define a service, company, organization, product or event, and quickly define its value. Use it to spark interest in what your organization does. A good elevator pitch should last no longer than a short elevator ride of 20 to 30 seconds, hence the name. Elevator pitches should be interesting, memorable and succinct. They also need to explain what makes ILMA unique, what you do and what you stand for. The elevator pitch is also a good description to provide to third-party organizations who want a short blurb about ILMA for a website or newsletter. Click here for an ILMA sample elevator pitch.

ILMA Advocacy Message Guide

Positioning can be critical. During your outreach to your representatives in Congress, it is important to use clear language to communicate ILMA’s positions and legislative goals. An effective message is usually a one- or two-sentence statement that includes two critical components: your most important points and your audience’s needs or values. Marketing and advertising experts call this “positioning,” while social and political scientists call it “framing.”

Regardless of what you choose to call it, it is an effective method of political communication, and participants should learn to recognize it and use it. There are some issues and statements that can’t be easily “positioned,” and you shouldn’t try to force it in those cases, simply use it wherever possible. 

For example, more than a decade ago, Republicans learned that talking about “tax cuts” led most voters to think about Warren Buffett or Wall Street fat cats. They found that the term “tax relief” was more effective, as it positioned taxes as an affliction and Republicans as people who could bring relief from that affliction. They have been so successful that now even Democrats have adopted the term when talking about reducing taxes. Similarly, opponents of the estate tax have successfully repositioned it as the “death tax.” 

And of course, politicians have learned that positioning federal spending on highways and bridges in their districts as “investments” is much more successful than pork. 

Personalize to Maximize Effectiveness
The messaging and talking points to follow shouldn’t be used verbatim in your communications to political leaders and influencers. Instead, you should communicate these messages using the themes in your own words, with personal details that make them your own. These are only “talking points” meant to lend support to an argument or subject of discussion. They should guide your thinking and speaking, but they will have more authenticity and credibility if you personalize them. 

Consistency Is Key
It’s also critical to make sure your language is consistent across all your communications channels (websites, letters, talking points, conversations with influencers and elected officials, etc.); you want your targets to hear and read the same thing back home that your allies in Washington are telling them. 

Keep It Simple and Jargon Free
Resist the temptation to include every detail in your communications. If someone is only going to remember three out of the five things you tell them, you want to tell them the right five things. In addition, while the lubricants industry is highly technical, keep your conversations and written materials jargon-free (unless you are talking to others in the industry or trade media). People already suffer from information overload, and any words you use that prevent them from easily grasping your point will allow your message to quickly be forgotten. Some issues can’t be explained without providing some technical context, but use your best judgment and err on the side of simplicity and brevity.