Idaho chapters’ secret sauce for business outreach
By Harold Hedelman
CCL chapters in Boise and Pocatello have achieved real success in engaging Idaho businesses. How? Their special recipe for success combines inter-chapter coordination, preparation, teamwork, and communication skills, plus a partnership with the Business Climate Leaders (BCL) Action Team.
They started by borrowing a page from the playbook of CCL’s impressive Florida outreach campaign. They formed a steering committee that launched a Leaders’ Letter initiative. The letter asked businesses to lobby Representative Mike Simpson (R-ID) with three requests: meet with us, join the Climate Solutions Caucus, and support carbon pricing. Here are the elements that led to their success, plus a look at the impressive results they’ve achieved so far:
Campaign leader John Segar says consistent communication is crucial, so they maintain patient, polite, persistent, and regular contact with companies they hope will support CCL’s cause. “It’s essential to stay in close contact with a company,” he explained. “The dedication of our volunteers is infectious, and that opens doors for us.”
Boise chapter leader Nancy Basinger said preparation is another key ingredient for success. Team member Laurie Zuckerman conducted extensive research and planning. “Laurie is always prepared when meeting with new contacts. She does her homework!” Nancy said. “By the time we meet with a company, Laurie has prepared a notebook filled with information about them.”
Laurie added, “Company leaders know we are sincere and respectful because we value what they do and want to know what’s important to their business. That gets our conversation off to a great start.”
“The Business Climate Leaders’ help has been invaluable,” John said. “They provided us with tools and templates to help the launch. Then BCL stayed on the steering committee and helped us recruit business staffers to it.”
“Using your network is also important,” Nancy added. “We started with people we knew. As more and more people become familiar with what we do, doors open and it gets easier. Also, Laurie’s a Rotarian, and her Rotary outreach and contacts contributed a lot.“
John reported that the two chapters have already gotten the support of three hospitals, the Idaho chapter of the American Lung Association, the Idaho Public Health Association, and the Idaho Clean Energy Association, along with other businesses.
BCL contributed four companies via the BCL network: Clif Bar, Hewlett Packard, Inc., St. Alphonsus (a hospital that’s part of Trinity Health), and Happy Family Brands (thanks to an assist from the American Sustainable Business Council, an NGO that collaborates with BCL).
During CCL’s November 2017 Congressional Education Day in D.C., John and Nancy delivered the leader’s letter, signed by 12 partners, to Congressman Simpson. They are continuing to engage new companies and will work with all of Idaho’s chapters to bring the voice of business to all of Idaho’s congressional delegation.
BCL is now providing similar support to campaigns in Iowa, Arkansas and Texas. We offer support to any chapter that wants our help. The success of the chapters in Idaho—where every member of the Congressional delegation is Republican—may encourage other chapters to launch similar initiatives. We’d love to help them!
For more information on CCL and BCL in Idaho, visit Idaho Climate Leaders.
Harold Hedelman is a hard-working (though fully retired!) entrepreneur and nonprofit executive. He co-founded and co-leads CCL’s Business Climate Leaders Action Team.