Putting together a fly-in at any level of government for any group of people presents a logistical challenge.
If you’re going to organize a fly-in, it’ll require time, attention, financial and personnel resources to properly equip your advocates with the knowledge and tactics to get results.
Not all fly-ins are successful, and some can even result in waning relationships with elected officials and staff. If you’re fortunate enough to produce a successful fly-in, your job isn’t over, and you may have an equally heavy challenge of preventing post-fly-in fatigue.
Post-fly-in fatigue can occur in both volunteer advocates and professional staff. The symptoms include low action rates, lack of response, poor attendance, and even irritability. Your advocates most likely traveled away from their families, businesses, and everyday life to spend time learning about complex policy issues and how to persuade lawmakers and staff. This isn’t exactly a vacation at The Breakers.
Most fly-ins are the uphill sprint in the year-round marathon of an advocacy program. Volunteers and staff are usually spent and exhausted from the information overload of the civics 101 refresher that they had to recall from High School. Couple that with the stress of staying organized, focused, on-time, and on-message you have a mentally drained core group of supporters of your organization.
Now, you can prevent post fly-in fatigue. But you can only treat the symptoms, mitigate its effects, and quarantine it from spreading to other parts of the organization. Here are a few tips to mitigate post-fly-in fatigue:
Set an interval of non-communication: Don’t correspond with government relations staff or your advocates for a period of time following a fly-in unless absolutely necessary. This will depend on your organization, but one to three days tends to be best for everyone to catch their breath.
Set expectations for post-fly-in activities: There are essential post-fly-in activities and follow-up that will need to occur. During your fly-in training, let your advocates know when these activities will gear up and create advanced collateral to make it simple and effective for your advocates to knock out any follow-up.
Don’t rush into a major campaign: Fly-ins and in-person gatherings of advocates will generate ideas, build excitement, and ultimately create more work for professional staff. Immediately launching a campaign following a fly-in isn’t recommended. You can, however, get creative with the targeting and launch a campaign directed at advocates who didn’t attend the fly-in to send messages supporting those that did attend to keep the momentum going without burdening your core group.
Don’t rest on your laurels: The post fly-in period is about balance. You don’t want your advocates and staff to burn out, but you also don’t want them to start coasting. Having an interactive activity like a webinar, video, or podcast lined up can be beneficial. Leverage the photos and content created during the fly-in during organization communications. Here you are working smarter and not harder as staff and maintaining focus.
Joshua Habursky is the Head of Federal Affairs at the Premium Cigar Association and Adjunct Professor at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management.