Successful advocacy is often a two-pronged approach, calling for efforts that focus on both the grassroots and the grasstops. A grassroots campaign mobilizes and prepares supporters to attend hearings, write letters or emails, call their legislators, and help spread the word to the constituents on the street or in the elevator. A grasstops campaign targets the elected officials and the people who influence them. Critical to a successful grasstops effort is creating a message that resonates with lawmakers and the people who influence them. Tailoring a message for a specific person or group of people requires understanding what motivates them. To be effective, an advocate should know whether an elected official has taken a position on the issue of concern, what the politician’s interests are, how accessible the legislator is, and who influences him or her. All this research may seem like a daunting task but in today’s digital landscape, it need not be that way.
An important research goal is to determine which lawmakers could be most helpful to your advocacy effort. There is no sense spending a lot of time trying to convince someone that your position is the correct one if the legislator stands firmly with the opposition. Also, a legislator who may agree with you but for whom your issue is low on the priority list may never be accessible to you. Freshman lawmakers may be enthusiastic for the cause, but may also lack the legislative background to promote your