Panel 1: How Do Messages Get from Citizens to Capitol Hill and Back?
This panel presented the tools and practices that congressional offices and advocacy groups use in their communications, in order to provide each side with a better understanding of what is happening on the other side during each step in the process. It included representatives from Congress, the vendor community, and the advocacy community.
Panel 2: What About Constituent Communications Isn’t Working?
This panel framed the problems as viewed by each side. The panel included representatives from congressional offices, the advocacy community and the vendors that assist each group in managing communications. The objective of this panel was to provide an overview of the crux of the problems faced by congressional staff, advocacy groups, and citizens in their efforts to communicate with one another effectively, especially through organized advocacy campaigns.
Panel 3: Options for a New Model for Constituent Communications that Works for Everyone.
This panel discussed possible solutions to the problem. It included one representative from Congress and one representative from the public affairs/advocacy community, as well as two neutral third parties who are knowledgeable about the problem, about Congress, and about technology. These panelists were provided in advance with a list of the key issues that must be solved, and they were asked to devise a high-level concept that will solve as many of the problems as possible and present their concept at the conference.
Lunch Presentation: Preview of the results from survey of citizens who communicate with their Member of Congress.
Over lunch, attendees were given a preview of the results of a national survey of citizens commissioned by CMF that details why and how often they communicate with their Members of Congress and what they expect from Members in return. The results are the basis for the report Communicating with Congress: How the Internet Has Changed Citizen Engagement.
This conference was made possible by grants to CMF from the American Library Association, The Humane Society of the United States, the National Association of Realtors, National Write Your Congressman, Pitney Bowes, the Public Affairs Council, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, with special appreciation to the Communicating with Congress Working Group: Capitol Advantage, Convio, Democracy Data & Communications, Grassroots Enterprise, Issue Dynamics, Inc., Stakeholder, Vocus, and voterVoice.
CMF would also like to thank Online Video Service for their generous hosting of the Communicating with Congress Conference videos.