Archives for lobbying

Know the Facts Before You Lobby

resources listDo you know everything that you need to know about what you’re trying to have an impact on?

Before you set out to have an impact on any particular issue it helps to have more than just a thumb-nail view of the facts in order to be able to make a case for what you believe.

Whether it’s plain old citizen-lobbying of a local council, or the multi-million dollar corporate variety, good research is the foundation of good lobbying – but good research can require a lot of work.

The problem for elected officials is the huge number of issues that scream for attention. They don’t have the time to follow the nuances of every piece of legislation, but they put their name, reputation and possibly their career on the line with every vote. As a result, good information is invaluable.

The rule is this: do the work for them.

Politicians aren’t super-human and don’t know everything about everything (you probably knew that already), and can’t learn it all. Though as individuals they may know more about various subjects, most of them are forced to be generalists. So part of the job of good lobbying is to be an expert on the issues you want to advocate.

Things that elected officials need to know about legislation or proposals:

  • The details of any proposal
  • How it changes current law or the status quo
  • How those changes will impact their constituents

Without that knowledge, most elected officials can only hope and pray that they don’t accidentaly stumble into a politically explosive situation, (something most of them try to avoid because they want to get re-elected).

Where do they usually find the information they need to make a decision? A good bit of it comes from educated constituents who have done their homework or who offer the benefit of their own expertise.

In other words, it could be you.  You’re certainly more of an expert on the things you do and the situations you face every day than most politicians.

Spend time researching and organizing information on the issues you want to impact. Then turn it into a resource for friendly elected officials.

Remember, knowledge is power. Get it and use it.

Local Lobbying (or How to Fight City Hall)

local lobbyingHave a problem with local government? You’re not the first and you certainly won’t be the last. But what can you do about it?  That’s were local lobbying comes in.

Keep in mind that there are some key differences between lobbying for local change, versus at the state or national levels.  And there are some specific tactics that you should keep in mind to be more effective in local lobbying.

Unique Aspects of Local Government:

One Chamber: As opposed to state legislatures and Congress, whether you’re talking about school boards, city/county councils or commissions, you’re only dealing with one group of elected officials, rather than two.

Fewer Officials: The typical local government has fewer elected officials to keep an eye on, (the national average is six), versus potentially hundreds at higher levels.

They Represent Fewer People: Local elected officials represent far fewer constituents.  This means that they are more susceptible to organized, outside pressure.

Fewer Targets: When you have fewer elected officials that means that there are going to be fewer “undecided” or persuadable officials that you need to target…possibly just one or two.

Local Lobbying Tips:

Learn the Process: There can be wide variances in the legislative process (from cities, to counties, to school boards), so research how the process works in your area.  Contact your local council or board member and ask for information.  The more you know about the process in your area, the more effective you will be.

Do Your Research and Identify Your Targets: Find out exactly where they stand, and then relentlessly focus all of your time and attention on the undecided/persuadable votes.  When you consider that you’re focusing on just a couple of officials who themselves represent a small number of constituents, this gives you tremendous leverage.

Choose the Right Lobbying Tactics: Phone calls, letters, emails, personal visits, petitions, something else or all of the above?  “What” you do can depend on how much time you have and how many people are willing to help.  Choose those that best leverage your resources.  (You can see some of the basics in my “Nine Grassroots Opportunities” report).

Get to Know Them: Personal relationships at this level of government go farther than at the state and national levels.  Make an effort to get to know them personally.  Contribute to and help the ones who think like you do.  Be active in local organizations that they are involved in (especially the local GOP).  Remember, “politics is people”!

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You can “beat City Hall” (or any other local government), but you need to do your homework first.  And don’t forget, most state and national politicians used to be local politicians – so investing in local lobbying can pay big lobbying dividends in the future!

Basic Grassroots Lobbying

grassroots lobbyingNo matter how involved you may become in the political process, every citizen – in the serious sense of that word – should know how to lobby their government.  (Don’t forget that it IS a Constitutional right, after all)  And that means grassroots lobbying!

Knowing how to effectively lobby – and actually doing so – is what gives conservatives a voice in the development of public policy.

It’s not enough to show up at the ballot box every few years and elect some people to office.  You’ve got to keep an eye on them once they get in, (even the one’s you may be friends with).  Then let them hear from you when necessary.

That’s the essence of grassroots lobbying.

But how can you be more effective in the process?  There are some fundamentals when it comes to being effective in politics, and one of them is to multiply and organize your efforts.

Effective grassroots lobbying is a team effort.

In any team sport, the players are supposed to work according to their individual responsibilities for the overall benefit of the team.  The better they work together, the more likely they are to reach their goal – winning.  You have to know the rules, the positions, and the key players.

At the same time, a winning team needs to be strategic in its overall game plan and consider the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition as well as their own.

Whether in grassroots lobbying or actual campaign politics, “the game” is pretty much the same.

You don’t have to pay too much attention to the way things are going to know that it’s more important than ever before that conservatives build winning “teams” of players at the local level to offer support to public officials in advancing public policy, or to bring heat when it’s necessary.

All the more reason for you to either join a local grassroots lobbying team or start one of your own.

Instead of complaining, make a point to reach out to some people who think like you do today and get started.  What’s stopping you?

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Any experiences about grassroots lobbying you’d like to relate?  Sound off in the comments below.

Get more tips like these in my Grassroots 101 Training Series.  Check it out!