Every year, leading Florida public relations firm Kevin Cate Communications unveils the mystery of speaking directly with those in the Tallahassee halls of power.
Cate, who currently serves as lead spokesperson for the Charlie Crist for Governor Campaign, puts out the Communicating with the Florida Legislature, an annual study featured in college classrooms nationwide, as well as in the 15th edition of Politics in States and Communities, a well-regarded political science textbook.
“I love my clients and my job,” Cate said in an email. “Sorry if that’s weird, but it’s true.”
“It also allows me to do PR without the BS,” he added.
In researching the 2014 Communicating with the Florida Legislature, legislative aides were asked:
- What are the most persuasive messages for lawmakers?
- What earned methods are very likely to influence lawmakers?
- What paid methods are very likely to influence lawmakers?
- Where do lawmakers get their news?
- How are lawmakers using social media?
According to Cate, a record number of respondents (82) participated in the 2014 survey, offering “cool, anonymous” advice for being heard by your Tallahassee representative.
Among the findings: 97% of respondents believe citizens are important to the lawmaking process; 56% feel they are “very important,” a number up a point from 2013.
For constituents to communicate with legislators, the most persuasive messages have one of three elements: specific concerns, localized information or a personal story directly related to the bill.
As for how state legislators get their news, local newspapers take the lead as an information source, cited by 63% of respondents. In addition, SaintPetersBlog emerged this year as another leading source of news. More than one-third (39%) said they went to SaintPetersBlog, up 4.1% from last year; one-quarter (26%) said they took in the site’s daily political digest SUNBURN.
Dropping considerably in importance is local television news, down 15% from last year. Also losing its grip are major news networks such as Fox News, MSNBC and CNN; the report shows each down in influence as per the latest survey.
Social media remains a potent tool for lawmakers to both communicate and listen to constituents. Facebook leads the pack; 82% of legislators are turning to the giant platform to listen to needs of those they serve. Twitter is a distant second with almost 15%.
The 2014 Communicating with the Florida Legislature survey is now available as a convenient infographic on commsfloridalegislature.com.