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November 15, 2016

Run, Don't Walk, to the Hill 

In the wake of this historic election, Congress is poised to quickly shift its priorities. 2017 will be an important year for any advocacy group looking to make progress on their core objectives.

Despite only small shifts in partisan makeup, the 115th Congress will have many freshman lawmakers. The House of Representatives will welcome forty-nine new members, with twenty-four Democrats, twenty-four Republicans and one unknown from Louisiana's Fourth District runoff race. The Senate will also bring in seven new colleagues with five Democrats, one new Republican and one more unknown from Louisiana's Senate runoff race. New Members will present both challenges and opportunities for any advocacy effort and the groups that create these relationships quickly will benefit over those that don't.

Each new lawmaker will begin to formulate their opinions on legislation and set out their priorities early. Advocates also need to understand the difference in pace and politics when the Senate, House, and White House to be held by the same party. There is a lot of potential for quick legislative action in the next session. Bills that pass in either house are expected to move rapidly onto the desk of the President.

It should be clear: Advocates cannot afford to wait to visit with legislators. The first three months, (the President's first 100 days) will be a time of hurried work. This is true for the Senior Republican leadership as well as for the 56 first-time lawmakers who will be hiring staff, selecting offices, and voting on bills that will set the trajectory of the nation for years to come.

With decades of experience leading Congressional Offices, the team at Convenntus has the relationships, experience, and tenacity to manage your Hill Day. We offer a complete
suite of services to make your next fly-in effective and seamless, and to make you
look good in the process. 

November 1, 2016

One Week To Go! Tips for Your 2017 Fly-In

We here at Convenntus can't believe that there is only one week to go until election day. And while the country focuses its attention on polls and partisan tactics, we know many of you are already working hard to ensure that your 2017 Hill Day will be a success.

It doesn't take a political expert to understand that Congress will be undergoing some real changes - and may look very different when it reconvenes next year. An altered Congressional landscape may impact your fly-in preparations.

Since leaving the Hill, we've managed dozens of national fly-ins for organizations both large and small and we know that there are a few important ways the new Congress may affect your advocacy efforts.

Here are three pieces of advice we think every lobby day coordinator should keep in mind after the election results come in:

  1. Power will shift: There will be seven leadership changes in House Committees in the 2017 Congress at least, based on term limits and members seeking different offices. These changes will create vacancies for new members to be more influential on key pieces of legislation. The changing composition of Congress will present both challenges and opportunities for your Hill Day and it will be important that you have assembled an experienced team who truly understands how to navigate the altered environment.
  2. New White House, Different Capitol Hill: The first 100 days of any new administration makes it a very busy time on the Hill. Members of Congress tend to focus more on DC business than constituents. The formation of new committees and leadership elections makes it easy for associations' and organizations' requests and meetings to get drowned out. Fly-ins scheduled for the first half of 2017 are best coordinated by enlisting or hiring a team with very strong Hill relationships.
  3. Be conscious of timing: Next year's legislative calendar will be issued in early December. The 115th Congress will be an extremely hectic time but ensuring that your Fly-in is scheduled for when Members are in town and putting in requests when they are in the District is crucial. Schedulers are most responsive in the off weeks. 

September 13, 2016 

Preparing For Your Organization’s 2017 Fly-In

While the country is fixated on the upcoming election we know many of you are already working hard to ensure that your 2017 Hill Day is a success.  Given the tumultuous nature of this election cycle, Capitol Hill seems likely to undergo some real changes.   An altered Congressional landscape will affect your fly-in preparations.  

The ConVenntus team has participated in countless meetings with advocates appealing to Members of Congress. Since leaving the Hill and joining ConVenntus, we’ve managed dozens of national fly-Ins for organizations both large and small.   Here are three pieces of advice we think every lobby day coordinator should keep in mind this fall:

1. Elections have consequences:  Immediately after the election, final plans for your fly-in will need to be put in place.  Many different levers of power hinge on the results of November 8th.   Given this year’s volatile environment, it is likely that at least one of your top-tier meeting targets will be leaving Congress.  Partisan shifts in either chamber can impact your organizations’ outreach priorities.  Committees may have new Chairpersons (as well as Ranking Members) and newly elected Members of Congress will begin to find their way on Capitol Hill.  The changing composition of Congress will present both challenges and opportunities for your Hill Day and it will be important that you have assembled an experienced team who truly understands how to navigate the altered environment.  

2. Understanding what a new administration means for Capitol Hill: The first six months of a new President’s term is an extremely busy time on the Hill.  Priorities of Members of Congress and their staff tend to temporarily shift away from a constituent based focus towards the more inward looking work of DC business.  The hustle and bustle of new committee formations and leadership elections make it easy for associations and organizations’ meeting requests to get lost in the mix.  Any Fly-in happening during the first half of 2017 would be best positioned by enlisting or hiring a team with very strong Hill relationships.  Without the right people making “the ask,” your membership may have a difficult time securing the meetings that they need to effectively advocate. 

3. Timing your outreach to Congressional schedulers: While this piece of advice is always useful, it is most important in the wake of a presidential election.  Be sure to understand the post-election Congressional schedule as clearly as possible.  As the results of the election dictate, the majority party will be drafting the 2017 legislative calendar in each chamber.  It is usually issued in early December.  As noted above, Capitol Hill will be extremely busy in the immediate weeks and months after the election, do your best to concentrate your scheduling requests at times when schedulers will have the bandwidth to respond.

August 9, 2016

In May, Convenntus was honored to work hand-in-hand with the Center for Reproductive Rights on their 2016 "Act for Women" lobby day. Under CRR's leadership, more than 140 state and federal advocates, faith leaders, health practitioners, and clinic workers congregated in Washington, DC to advocate for the Women's Health Protection Act.

The "Act for Women" fly-in was a great success. Through our outreach we secured 120 Capitol Hill meetings - 46 of which were held directly with Members of Congress or their Chief of Staff. As a result, the Center's main legislative priority, the Women's Health Protection Act, gained a minimum of 12 new co-sponsors.

We are proud of our work on behalf of the Center for Reproductive Rights and look forward to expanding their federal advocacy efforts in the future.

"It was a pleasure working with Convenntus. In addition to being great people, they were committed to our event, responsive when it came to crunch time, and willing partners every step along the way."

-Amy Friedrich-Karnik, Senior Federal Policy Advisor for US Policy & Advocacy
Center for Reproductive Rights  

July 14, 2016

The Convenntus team is proud to have recently managed the National Court Reporters Association's (NCRA) 2016 Fly-In.

This was our first time partnering with the Court Reporters and we look forward to complimenting their advocacy efforts for years to come.Bringing together 60 court reporters from around the country, the NCRA had a successful day on Capitol Hill. Through our outreach we secured 85 Capitol Hill meetings - 22 of which were held with Members of Congress who met with NCRA members directly.

"I cannot recommend using Convenntus enough for your fly-in day. During the lead-up to the event, they were completely on top of scheduling all meetings for all 60 of our attendees. We were given constant updates about the status of the schedule and Convenntus was able to book us a much higher percentage of member meetings than when we scheduled the meetings on our own in previous years.

Even better, the individualized app that they gave to each one of our attendees was a huge benefit. It was easily customizable and was updated automatically when a meeting time changed even day of. We were also given a day of coordinator who ensured that attendees were alerted when meetings changed at the last minute. I cannot recommend working with them enough."

-Adam Finkel, Director, Government Relations, National Court Reporters Association 

March 12, 2016

The Convenntus team recently had the pleasure of managing the American Society of Travel Agents' (ASTA) 2016 Fly-In.

Bringing together nearly 60 travel agents from around the country, ASTA had a hugely successful 2 days on Capitol Hill. We secured 82 Capitol Hill meetings for their members and organized a large Congressional Reception around the presentation of their Global Travel Advocacy Award. Our efforts caught the attention of 22 Members of Congress who personally made the time to visit with ASTA directly.

Before it was time for ASTA to head to the Hill our managing director led a Congressional advocacy training and walked each participant through a mock Hill meeting.

This is Convenntus's 2nd year managing ASTA's Fly-in, and we look forward to continuing to amplify their advocacy efforts in 2017.

"Convenntus really stepped up for ASTA's third annual Legislative Fly-In. Erik Olson and his team provided us with an effective strategy, understood our goals, and delivered results. Their deep understanding of what makes a good Fly-In proved invaluable and guided us to a successful turn-out." 

-Eben Peck, Senior Vice President, Government & Industry Affairs, American Society of Travel Agents 

February 20, 2016 

There are an incredible amount of national lobby days, fly-ins, Capitol Hill days (or whatever term you may use) taking place here in DC these days. Given that we're on the cusp of Spring, traditionally the busiest time of year for visiting groups, we thought we'd send a note with some tips to help the folks who are working so hard to make these events a success.

Having spent years working on Capitol Hill, the team at Convenntus has participated in countless advocacy meetings with Members of Congress and their staff. We've also been to numerous advocacy events and receptions around the Hill.

Here are a three pieces of advice we think every national lobby day coordinator should be sharing with their participants:

1. Be sure that every lobby team has been fully briefed and prepared for how hill meetings sometimes go.

When the House and Senate are both in session the Hill is flooded with thousands of visitors. All participants should know that having a 15-minute discussion in a congressional hallway with young staffer can actually be a very successful visit (and not a slight). Hill offices are limited in the amount of space they have for meetings. A proper training can ensure no one leaves your fly-in, participants or staff, with a bad taste in their mouth. 

2. Know your travel times and budget your meetings to end later than expected.

The Hill is a quirky place with only vaguely predictable vote schedules and committee hearings. Many of your most impactful meetings will likely start after the allotted time (and most members are reliably late). Make sure you really know how long it will take your group to make the next meeting - are you racing across the entire complex from Rayburn to Hart with only 5 minutes to spare? While votes are being called? Using a company with the expertise and background to know the ins and outs of Capitol Hill will produce a seamless day with happy participants.

3. Be nice to everyone.

Most lobby day attendees are shocked at how young the vast majority of Hill Staffers are. The average age is 27 years old. What participants need to know is that these young people are invaluable, have the Member's ear, and are the true pushers of your agenda internally. Making and keeping relationships with staff will be key to your association or company's success. Proper preparation for your team will guarantee you get the outcomes you are looking for during your day on the Hill. 

October 15, 2014


VENN OUTLINES VISION FOR CONVENNTUS: The principals of the firm Venn Strategies have more details on their new convention and fly-in consulting spin-off Convenntus. The new firm will be led by Venn principal Erik Olson, who will serve as its managing directorThe new firm will be bipartisan and partly owned by Venn. It already has clients in place including the Toy Industry Association, National Kidney Foundation and S Corporation Association and will work with other trade associations and corporations on Washington lobbying days and fly-ins.

“We founded Convenntus to provide organizations a cost effective first-rate advocacy experience when they visit Washington, D.C.,” said Olson. “We know that nothing wins battles in Washington like bringing constituents here to tell their personal stories to members of Congress; but we appreciate that the quality of those efforts can make or break the success of those visits. We have decades of know-how from both inside and outside Capitol Hill to make Washington fly-ins, lobby days, Congressional visits and similar effort effective and seamless.”

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