Lobbying can be an efficient and powerful way to represent the interests of your group to elected officials in a non-violent way. To be effective, your lobbying campaign should be consistent and well organized. Follow these guidelines when planning and conducting your lobbying efforts:
- Make sure you are focusing your lobbying activities on the proper recipients, those who are in a position to help you achieve your goals. Familiarize yourself with their interests and prior records on this and similar issues.
- Get acquainted with the aides, secretaries and other members of the official’s staff. These people control access to the individual, and can be of great assistance in helping you get your message across.
- Research all aspects of the issue thoroughly, including those facts that may be used to argue against your position. Be prepared to rebut those arguments and to present evidence in support of your side.
- Select the most qualified spokesperson, or at most a small delegation to meet with the official. If you are sending a delegation, designate the primary spokesperson and the role each other member will play. All members of the delegation should be professional in appearance.
- When your meeting with the official begins, introduce yourself by clearly identifying your group and the reasons for your position on the issue. Explain how your group’s members are affected by the problem, and how a favorable decision will benefit them and the official’s constituents. Thank the official for any previous actions which have benefited your cause.
- Present your case calmly and rationally. Support your argument with facts rather than emotions, and maintain a professional demeanor even if the official disagrees with you. Avoid the use of buzzwords or jargon that may be confusing to the layman.
- Be sure your goals are clearly defined, such as “We would like you to vote ‘Yes’ on Bill 248 in the next session.” After making your case and stating your objectives, do not overstay your welcome; the official will appreciate your recognition of a busy schedule.
- Be prepared to compromise when possible. You may be able to achieve a partial success and lay the groundwork for further progress by avoiding an “all or nothing” position.
- Follow up with letters, telephone calls or subsequent meetings to keep your cause on the official’s mind.
Continue reading the 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action.