When I started CATECOMM in 2010, I was shocked with private and non-profit sector advocacy efforts — they spent so much time and money on things that made absolutely no difference with state lawmakers.

To this day, everywhere I look there are coalitions with no people, form email-only advocacy campaigns, rudderless TV spending, and don’t even get me started on social media or “grasstops” campaigns.

My clients know the difference, but I can’t consult for everyone and there are plenty of worthwhile causes out there that deserve to know how to actually move the needle in Tallahassee and state chambers across the country. So in 2013, I started anonymously surveying Florida Legislative Aides. I ask them questions about advocacy, and even give them a chance to give you their advice unfiltered.

Here are the results from our 2018 Florida Legislative Aide Survey. If you’re looking for more insight into these results, just send me an email. Otherwise, happy 2019 legislative session!

— Kevin Cate

Following the 2018 Florida Legislative Session, 61 state legislative aides responded to our anonymous survey. 54% self-identified as working in the Florida Senate, 46 in the Florida House. 62% self-identified as Republicans, 38% as Democrats.


Which best describes your lawmaker or committee chair's use of social media?
Which best describes your lawmaker or committee chair's use of social media?
How important are these social media platforms to lawmakers?
Important or Very Important
How important are these social media platforms to lawmakers?
When thinking about how legislators RECEIVE views from constituents, how important are the following social media platforms?
Somewhat Important or Very Important
When thinking about how legislators RECEIVE views from constituents, how important are the following social media platforms?
Has your lawmaker or committee chair ever used these services?
Has your lawmaker or committee chair ever used these services?
Which of the following do lawmakers read/watch/listen to daily or regularly?
Which of the following do lawmakers read/watch/listen to daily or regularly?
How likely are these paid methods to influence legislators?
How likely are these paid methods to influence legislators?
Assuming a legislator doesn't have a firm opinion on an issue, how likely is he/she to be influenced by these methods?
Assuming a legislator doesn't have a firm opinion on an issue, how likely is he/she to be influenced by these methods?
For a lawmaker, how important are these methods when communicating with constituents?
For a lawmaker, how important are these methods when communicating with constituents?
How important are the following people or groups in the lawmaking process?
Somewhat Important or Very Important
How important are the following people or groups in the lawmaking process?
How important are the following types of information for influencing lawmakers?
Somewhat Important or Very Important
How important are the following types of information for influencing lawmakers?
What is the most valuable advice you could give to citizens regarding influencing lawmakers?
Be concise, know your issue and come with statistics and facts.
Take the time to speak legislators (or legislative staff if legislator is not available) expressing your view in your voice. Avoid form letters/e-mails.
Make the message personal.
Be involved.
Show up in person to your legislator.
Vote.
Be present. Make your voice heard in any way you can.
Personalize your message (not form letters) clear, direct asks (not cramming buzzwords into everything you jobs).
Stay engaged on numerous (not just one polarizing) issue(s). Respect views of lawmakers and do not personally attack motives.
Schedule meeting in the district office between committee weeks or in advance of session in order to effectively grab the lawmakers attention and advocate on behalf of issues important to the community. Members will take the time to meet back home if asked, and timing is important to avoid "well session just ended, we can't do anything for a year" type of responses.
This is your government, make sure you discuss all matters of interest with your elected officials.
Stay engaged.
Know what you’re talking about before you call, always include a bill number if you are referencing a piece of legislation.
Call and knock on everyone's door as many times as you can.
Be concise and remember that staff could be key to earning support from your lawmakers. Follow up and don't give up.