Hosting Site Visits for State Legislators at Your Institution
Hosting site visits is an excellent way to not only continue to build relationships with your elected officials, but also give the dental school an opportunity to increase its exposure as a major player in state politics. Site visits give legislators a chance to see firsthand how dental education programs can positively impact the community. These visits are a good way to remind faculty and students about the importance of advocacy and re-invigorate them for the work ahead. Use site visits to link legislators with faculty and students who are willing to serve as resources during discussions on issues related to dental education. Finally, site visits give elected officials the opportunity to see what goes on in dental schools and dental programs on a day-to-day basis.
- Arranging the site visit
- Arrange a site visit when your legislator is in his or her district and when classes are in session. The legislator’s schedule can be hectic, so be as flexible as possible with your schedule to accommodate the public official.
- Organizing media coverage
- Work with the legislator’s press secretary or communications director as well as your institution’s communications/media staff to coordinate press activity. Invite local television news stations and newspapers to cover the event. Make sure to include the time, date and purpose of the site visit when you send out a media advisory to the local news outlets. If the media cannot be present, take pictures and include them with a summary of the activities to send to local media outlets.
- Hosting the site visit
- Prepare faculty and students before the visit by explaining what to expect during the visit. Have students interact with the legislator and provide the legislator with literature on local statistics regarding the effectiveness of your program. Be sure that during the site visit you make your request for any legislation needed to strengthen your dental education program.
- After the site visit
- Send a media release to local, state, and national news outlets. Send a thank-you letter to the legislator, and include any photos and press stories. In the letter recap the highlights of the visit and restate any requests for legislation needed to strengthen your dental education program.