The Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce focuses a great deal of energy on advocating for the best interests of the local business community. It is often, however, an effort that goes unnoticed outside the chambers of the city and county commissions.
That is about to change, according to Matt Brown, president of Premier Bank and current Chamber Chairman.
“We conducted a series of focus groups of both Chamber members and nonmembers and asked them what the Chamber should be focused on,” Brown said. “We found that many people had no idea how much advocacy the Chamber does on behalf of small business. So to improve communication about our activities, we are now sending Chamber Action Alerts, emails with information on signature events related to local government.”
One of the organization’s priorities for the year is to “measure and report,” according to Brown, and the Action Alert is part of that report component. “A lot of people are too busy with children and the complexities of everyday life to go down to a commission meeting, but these emails will keep them informed about what the Chamber is doing related to these issues.”
They also will serve an additional, and perhaps even more important, function.
“Members are constantly asking how they can get involved and share their views with the city and county commissions,” said Todd Sperry, vice president and CFO of Oliver Renovation and chair of the Chamber’s Growth Management and Infrastructure Committee. “But these are often complicated issues, and to set up a meeting or speak publicly can take a long time to prepare for.
“The Chamber Action Alert gives members background information on an issue, the Chamber’s position and contact information for the relevant elected officials, including direct email links.”
Hearing from individuals on an issue can be more powerful than even the most eloquent presentation from a lobbyist, according to Sperry. “In an organization as large as the Chamber, we tend to have individuals represent the membership, but sometimes I don’t think the commissioners comprehend just how big the Chamber is,” he said. “These alerts are a way to help members participate, so the commissioners can see how many people are interested in a subject. People are saying, ‘I want this,’ or ‘I don’t want this,’ – not a lobbyist we are paying.”
As the Chamber is able to encourage more grassroots efforts in support of important issues, members have an opportunity to share in the success, Sperry said. “As people get more involved, they can see our victories and know that they participated in that.”
“Electronic advocacy is a great tool to get out important information and is a convenient way to interact with elected officials,” Brown said. “It provides members an opportunity to respond to these issues as they see fit.” One powerful message at a time.
The action alert will be utilized when key issues arise. To sign up for the Chamber’s Action Alert emails, contact Bonnie Hutchinson at (850) 521-3119 or firstname.lastname@example.org