Lobbying 101

Lobbying can take many forms and functions. Whether it is directly speaking to an elected official and asking for his or her vote on a particular issue or writing a letter of support, the term “lobbying” encompasses many different tactics.

Here are Aponté & Busam’s top ten tips for successful lobbying!

10. Avoid form letters. It is often easy to cut and paste a standardized message to a legislator, but he or she will often receive hundreds of letters, calls and emails every day. Make sure your message stands out from the crowd.

9. Introduce yourself as a constituent. Legislators are always happy to hear from citizens from their district.

8. Use facts you know to be accurate and true. It is ok to say “I don’t know, but I’ll find out and follow-up with you.” Make sure to follow-up in a reasonable time frame.

7. Localize the issue. Legislators want to connect with their districts and the citizens who they serve. Wherever possible, make a local and personal connection to the issue you are lobbying.

6. Do your homework. Make sure you know who your legislator is and what makes he or she tick. Spending a few minutes to prepare for a meeting will ensure your encounter runs smoothly.

5. Be a squeaky wheel. With over 600 bills each session, and hundreds of registered lobbyists, legislators are in high demand. Often times it will take several attempts to reach your legislators or schedule a meeting. Persistence and patience pay off.

4. Honor the process. The legislative process is steeped in tradition and comes with formal rules to follow. Educate yourself about the process before you engage.

3. Be flexible. Legislators have extremely busy schedules, and the legislative process is fluid. Don’t be offended if a legislator is late to a meeting, or cancels at the last minute.

2. Be concise. There is nothing worse than losing a legislator’s attention due to endless facts and figures. Data is important, but choose your words wisely.

1. State your position and make an “ask.” Often times we get so wrapped up in the message, we forget to connect that message to a concrete “ask” for support, opposition or a specific amendment.