Lobbying entails different elements which must be addressed for the effort to be a success. To keep this simple I have divided the process into two main elements with sub-elements that further define the main ones.
This is why, most often, a lobbyist is retained. “Retail” lobbying usually takes place within the Capitol and relies on the relationships a lobbyist has fostered with legislators and staff.
Face-to-face meetings with legislators, their staff, and House or Senate staff to insure that your message is heard.
Q & A:
Being able to answer questions concerning your issue that may not be covered by any literature you give them. This can include providing testimony in the various committees and sub-committees.
This is where most amateurs fail. By being overly passionate, they can sometimes insult the very people (legislators) they’re trying to win over. A lobbyist should have the reputation of a professional with strong relationships in both houses and, more importantly, both sides of the aisle.
This type of lobbying is more general than “Retail”. It includes more wide ranging campaigns such as: mass mailings, rallies, press conferences, and coordinating constituent visits to legislators. This type of political persuasion is in the background, so to speak, and less one-on-one than retail lobbying. A good lobbyist should be able to these types of campaigns to ensure awareness of the issue at hand.
A mailing campaign is often one of the least effective methods of lobbying. Legislators receive tons of mail per day and most often don’t recall any one piece of mail. This type of lobbying can be more effective if it has aspects of “Retail” lobbying in that a letter from a particular legislator’s constituent can be more persuasive than a letter from a faceless organization. This campaign will be comprised of both snail- and e-mail.
If your business or organization is large enough to support an effective rally, a lobbyist can plan, coordinate and execute a rally that gets attention and results.
Press Conferences & Releases:
The stalwart Press Conference is the king of applying political pressure and can be essential to a successful campaign. A steady stream of press releases to influential reporters can also be incredibly valuable. A lobbyist can draft press releases and organize a strong press conference for you.
A legislator will listen to no one more than one of his or her own constituents. Constituents=VOTES! Although this particular element of lobbying can also fit under the umbrella of “Retail” lobbying, often a group from an organization will coordinate visits on a single day. They then split up and visit their respective legislators. A lobbyist will match up any individual with his or her legislator using our relationships to open the door.
In the next installment, I will discuss the process a bill goes through in order to become law, and the lobbyist’s role in the process.