LOBBYING TECHNIQUES

INTRODUCTION

Factors to Consider In Lobbying Plan

  1. Get to know the key players
  2. Get to know the policy-makers
  3. Get to know the key committees and how they work
  4. Learn the art of good timing
  5. Create a political issue
  6. Observe the five commandments of lobbying:
    • Always tell the truth
    • Never promise more than you can deliver
    • Listen, so that you can understand what is going on
    • Co-opt, don’t bypass staff and advisers
    • Do not spring surprises when creating alliances
  7. Prepare properly
  8. Use the media strategically
  9. Develop your expertise
  10. Anticipate what the opposition will do
  11. Create strategic alliances

TECHNIQUES USED IN LOBBYING

Lobbying is action people take to influence those in the government to pass certain bills. While there are specific rules on lobbying, a lobbyist can have a direct influence on whether a bill passes or not. The two types of lobbying;

  • Grassroots lobbying and
  • direct lobbying

Grassroots lobbying

Grassroots lobbying (also indirect lobbying) is about raising awareness of a particular cause at the local level, with the intention of reaching the legislature and making a difference in the decision-making process. Grassroots lobbying is an approach that separates itself from direct lobbying through the act of asking the general public to contact legislators and government officials concerning the issue at hand, as opposed to directing the message at the legislation themselves. Its goal is to influence legislation through the general public. Companies, associations and citizens are increasingly partaking in grassroots lobbying as an attempt to influence a change in legislation.

The unique characteristic of grassroots lobbying compared to other forms of lobbying is that in involves stimulating the politics of specific communities. This type of lobbying is different from the usual type as it is naturally brought upon by the organization unlike the structural lobbying seen elsewhere.

Tactics

There are several tactics used by groups in order to promote advocacy of different issues among the legislature, but the main two tactics used in Grassroots or “outside” advocacy are holding press conferences or organizing press releases, and mobilizing the mass membership to create a movement. By mobilizing the group that the lobby has built, this puts pressure on the legislature to listen and take notice of what concerns they may have. These tactics are used after the lobbying group gains a portion of the publics trust and support through speaking out in crowded areas, passing out flyers and even campaigning through web and television outlets. More recently, due to the potential of other modern communication devices, grassroots lobbying is expected to only increase as a form of shaping public opinion. Lobbying

Media lobbying as a type of grassroots lobbying can come in a variety of forms. Their attempt is to create campaigns that support the legislation being objected. These campaigns are published in all forms of media ranging from television to magazines and internet. Because grassroots lobbying is geared toward local organizations and communities, these types of media outlets are used mainly by large associations that can afford them. Smaller organizations tend to use free media on public television, radio and other smaller outlets. Other forms of free media that make a large impact are things like boycotting, protesting and demonstrations.

Large Company Campaigns

Large companies take advantage of grassroots lobbying as a means of impacting change in legislation. There are certain steps that need to be implemented before the outcome of the lobbying can take place.

  • The first step is a ‘legislative action program’. This is the role of the management to make the action important in the eyes of the rest of the organization. Not only must they identify specific legislation concerns to the rest of the company, the lobbyists must also a type of study identifying the sectors of the public that are being affected.
  • The second step is to sensitize the members of the organization to writing, calling or visiting officials and the Member of Congress as soon as an ‘alert’ is given. This will bring about internal communication with levels of authority.
  • Finally, the third step is media planning. There must be use of advertising, posting articles, commercials and TV programming that feature people impacted by the specific cause. These will be geared to those representatives of a Congressional district.

 Trends

Trends from the past decade in grassroots lobbying have been the increase in aggressive recruiting of volunteers and starting campaigns early on, way before the legislature must make a decision. Also, with increasing technology and modern communication techniques, lobbying groups have been able to create interactive web pages to email, recruit volunteers, assign them to tasks and keep the goal of the lobbying group on the right track.[5] With the added devices of today such as Facebook and Twitter, Grassroots lobbyists have an even easier, cheaper, and faster way to reach the masses and develop a strong base for their issues to be heard.

Hot Topics for Lobbyists

Not surprisingly, the major concerns of the general public do not reflect those of the lobbying groups. This is why the lobbying groups feel that they must use the aforementioned tactics to sway the public a certain way on an issue that they may never knew existed. To the general public, crime is the number one problem in nation, followed by the state of the economy and international affairs. However, the main concern for lobbying groups in the past has been on health concerns. A study done in 2009 shows that over 20 percent of lobbying groups put health concerns such as disease prevention, Medicare, or prescription drugs as a top priority. This interest in health is followed closely by environmental concerns as well. Although Grassroots lobbying has changed the stage of such advocacy, it is still concerning the same issues as other more traditional or direct lobbying

Regulations

Lobbying and the stimulation of grassroots lobbying, is protected by the First Amendment rights of speech, association, and petition . Federal law does not mandate grassroots lobbying disclosure, yet, 36 states regulate grassroots lobbying. 22 states define lobbying as direct or indirect communication to public officials, and 14 additional states define lobbying as any attempt to influence public officials. A group or individual classified as a lobbyist must submit regular disclosure reports. Reports accurately disclose activities and all financial support; however, reporting requirements vary from state to state. Some states disclosures are minimal and require only registration, while some states disclosure requirements are extensive, including but not limited to: filing of monthly to quarterly expense reports, including all legislative activity relevant to the individual or groups activities, amounts of contributions and donations, as well as the names and addresses of contributors and specified expenses . The grassroots lobbying disclosure law in Washington requires that any person or group that spends more than $500 per month or $1000 in three months from grassroots lobbying expenditures is required to file with the states Public Disclosure Commission and disclose his or hers name/ groups name, business, occupation, and address. Also the names and addresses of anyone or any group the grassroots lobbyists are working with, as well as anyone who contributes more than $25 towards lobbying efforts. Part-time employment or expenses of $500 per month on communications efforts is a common onset for disclosure reports, varying from states. Penalties range from civil fines to criminal penalties if regulations are not complied.

Direct lobbying

Direct lobbying refers to attempts to influence a legislative body through direct communication with a member or employee of a legislative body, or with a government official who participates in formulating U.S.legislation. In order for an action to be considered direct lobbying, the party must directly communicate the specific piece of legislature they want to influence, whether it be in-person or through some other type of information exchange. They must also propose the new position and request that their position be taken into account during the legislation process. This is different than grassroots lobbying, because, instead of using the public to enforce an opinion, direct lobbyists exploit personal ties with the legislative body they wish to impact in order to spread their influence. Most lobby firms reside in Washington, D.C. and there are currently 12,986 lobbyists in the Washington area recorded by the Center for Responsive Politics. The total amount spent on lobbying in the United States in 2010 was $3.49 billion.

1.   Direct Influence

  • This type of lobbying involves a person telling his views to someone directly involved with developing legislation. A government employee, staff member or legislator is those with whom you should communicate your views.

Characteristics of a Lobbyist

  • Direct lobbyists are more direct than indirect or grassroots lobbyists. Those who are involved with direct lobbying must have certain personality characteristics. The person should be persuasive, well-informed and self-confident.

Specific Legislature Proposal

  • You must have a “specific legislature proposal” for it to be considered direct lobbying. Even if a bill isn’t in the legislation process, you could still be lobbying if what you’re lobbying for needs legislation. So, if you want to fund an agency, this is considered a cause to lobby. This involves providing government officials with information about a specific bill. The lobbyist will use a myriad of resources and materials such as charts and graphs to influence the legislator to vote in the lobbyist’s favor.

Interacting

  • In some instances the lobbyist will sit with the legislator to help draft up the specific bill for which he’s campaigning. A direct lobbyist might also host parties to speak with legislators in a more informal setting.

Money

  • People who spend and contribute money and time to the campaign to lobby for a specific bill are also considered direct lobbyists. While giving money directly to the legislator to influence the signing of a specific bill isn’t allowed, the lobbyist and other members can raise money for re-election campaigns of certain legislators.

The Public

  • You might also try direct lobbying by influencing the public with ballot initiatives. By trying to influence the public, more people will be informed about the bill and more attention will be drawn to it.

There are four major methods that can make grass not lobbyist more effective. This include

  1. E.MAIL

This entails the use of internet in conveying information into the legislators.

Advantage

-it’s excellent at any time.

-it is very convenient

-it is institutors

 

  1. LETTER

Involve   presentation of legislators inform of a letter.

 

Advantage

-able to explain new or difficult issues

-more effective

 

Disadvantages

-needs long time to be delivered

 

  1. PHONECALL

-it is best when time is short

 

Disadvantage

-likely to be distorted e.g. incase of high / low volume.

-best only for short term and simple issues

 

  1. MEETING

This is where one establishes and maintains interpersonal relationship with the legislators.

 

Lobbying Procedure

A lobbying process may be initiated in two ways: actively and passively:

  • Active initiation means that the interest organization decides on its own to persuade, or press, an authority, i.e. the decision maker, to make a decision that lies in the interests of its members.
  • Passively means that information has been received about a new decision planned, under discussion, or already taken. The decision might affect the interests of the members positively, or negatively, thus the interest organization will support or oppose the initiative. Independently of active or passive initiation, a decision that the interest organization wants to influence should be analyzed from several perspectives:
  • Level of decision: international, national, municipality, company
  • Type of decision-maker
  • The area to which the decision in question is related: level of rent, housing availability, etc.
  • The status of the decision-making: planned, under discussion, made, implemented, etc.

After this analysis, the main course of action, e.g., to promote the decision, to oppose it, or to search for a compromise, could be determined. It is impossible to choose a main course of action without completing the consequence analysis. The decision should be analyzed from the view-point of how it would affect the members of the interest organization. A number of parameters should be chosen for this end. These parameters depend on the nature of the organization. In the case of HGF, the parameters are: level of rents, housing availability, housing standard, etc. For each parameter, an evaluation should be made of how this parameter will be affected by the decision; whether its value would go up or down. The evaluation should be supported by past experience, theoretical studies, etc. This kind of information can be very useful when trying to influence the decision in the chosen direction, create public opinion, etc.

When the main course of actions is chosen, e.g. to oppose the decision, support from the organization’s members should be secured. An opinion poll might help for this end. Following, a strategy and tactics need to be designed.

The strategy prescribes what channels to use when influencing the decision-maker(s), and in what order. The tactics describes how to use each channel.

The channels for influence are chosen according to the type of the decision-maker. Roughly, all channels to the decision-maker(s) can be divided into two groups; direct channels and indirect channels. By a direct channel, we mean a person or a group at the decision-making organization, e.g. a member of the parliament, a high-level employee of the local authority, etc. By communicating with such a person/group in a certain way (tactics), the decision can be affected directly. Examples of tactics for direct channels are: inform about consequences, ensure support, threaten, or search for a compromise.

Indirect channels should lead to organizations that are not involved in making the decision, but have some influence on the decision-maker(s). The most important indirect channels are the ones that lead to mass media, e.g., daily press, weekly magazines, TV, and radio programs, etc. Examples of tactics for mass media channels are: inform the public about the decision, initiate a debate, build up public opinion, and provoke the decision maker(s) to answer difficult questions. Other indirect channels may lead to local, national, or international authorities that have some power to stop or promote the decision. Examples of tactics for such channels are: inform about the decision and its consequences, get support, and pursue to take actions.

Following the chosen tactics for a given channel means completing one or more acts of communication with the person(s) who represent this channel. Communication may be oral, e.g. meeting, press conference, phone conversation, etc., or written, e.g. fax, mail, email, etc. After all communication activities via the channel have been completed, the result achieved should be understood: whether the tactical goal has been reached or not. By constant evaluation of the results, the overall strategy may be revised, new channels may be tried, or tactics may be changed for some of the channels.

During the communication through the channels, various messages are sent and received.

It is important to keep track of these messages, and have operational procedures in place for reviewing them. This can help when writing the answers, and revising the strategy. If the bookkeeping works properly, the documents can also be reused. For example, a document prepared for communication via one channel may be resent via other channels.

The operational goal of the lobbying process can be defined by a number of propositions on the state of the world we want to achieve:

  • The decision is classified according to the type of decision-maker.
  • Consequences are calculated according to the set of parameters that represents the interests of the members.

Consequence analysis is supported by arguments based on past experience, and theories.

  • The chosen main course of actions is based on the results of consequence analysis.
  • The support of majority of the organization’s members has been acquired.
  • The channels for influence were chosen according to the type of the decision-making organization.
  • The tactics for each channel corresponds to the nature of the channel.
  • The massages sent through each channel correspond to the tactics chosen for the channel, the nature of the channel, arguments gathered during the consequence analysis, and information received back through this channel (or maybe other channels).

 

REVISION QUESTIONS

  1. Discuss the factors to consider in lobbying plan
  2. Discuss the techniques used in lobbying
  3. Discuss the procedures of lobbying
  4. Explain the importance of consensus building lobbying
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