Tips From The Hill On What Works & What Doesn't

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Take it from a former Capitol Hill staffer: be direct, courteous and to the point-and remember the staffers tell the congressmen what to do.

That was among the tips that PSECU's new public relations/political relations manager, Nate Muniz, had to offer to credit unions-advice he gleaned from his tenure as an aide to U.S. Rep. Tim Holden (D-PA).

* Tell your story. "Credit unions must tell our story, not let someone else tell it for us," Muniz advised.

* Showcase your role in the community. "When you get involved in public service type events, you want to showcase that to your legislator," he suggested. "We want lawmakers to know that we are deeply involved in our communities."

* Be yourself. "Really, just be yourself and be friendly," Muniz said. "They really do remember that."

* Be flexible. "Try to work around their schedule," he said, noting that it's not that members of Congress think their time is more important than everybody else's, it's that committee votes, floor votes of the entire House and other pressing business that has to happen within a certain amount of time can happen at any time, even if you've scheduled your visit far in advance.

* Be direct. "You may only have 15 minutes of their time, so you've got to boil your message down to sound bites," he offered. "Leave a footprint behind, some light reading material."

* Don't be discouraged if you get "stuck" with a staffer instead of the congressman. "Don't be disappointed if all you can get is a meeting with a member of the congressman's staff," Muniz said, noting that in some cases, that can be a good thing. There are too many matter before members of Congress for them to develop expertise on every single one of them, so certain staffers are the member's "expertise" on certain subjects-these are the people who the lawmakers rely on to advise them on a given topic.

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